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The church is a gathering of people who become the body of Christ, and that body needs support all year long, not just when we can show up.

 


Weekly Reflection: Pastor Dana Reardon
June 4 ,2007

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Gratitude Doesn't Go on Vacation

This is the time of the year when church treasurers get nervous.  Even if the offering has been good to date, they know that when attendance goes down during the summer then so does the giving.

Perhaps the treasurers feel a little like the proprietor of a summer resort when the weather is cool and rainy for a long time.  Okay, so maybe not like the owner, but perhaps the guy's accountant.  People just don't show up, and when they don't show up, neither does their money.

That doesn't happen in churches when the people of God there understand that while church may seem like a respite from the world, like a resort, the truth is it is much more.  The church is a gathering of people who become the body of Christ, and that body needs support all year long, not just when we can show up. 

Summer is a time when I feel most thankful.  The weather is warm and I can go outside without bundling up.  Everything is in bloom and beautiful.  And when I am most thankful, that is when I need to give the most.  Thankfulness and giving should never be separated.  They are part of a natural flow.  So it is not natural that when we are thankful we do not give.  Find a way.

One of my favorite ways to make sure I am giving all year round is by my automated giving.  I have my offering taken out of my checking account twice a month.  I know that even when I am away my church is doing fine.  And then I look for other ways to give.  I chose them carefully. 

Or maybe our church treasurers are feeling like the people who plowed snow in the Northeast this winter.  Or more like whoever does the books for them.  Their services weren't needed and their income is dependent on need.  Maybe in the summertime people don't need God and so they don't need to give.

Some of us might treat the church a little like the snow plow guy and pay only when the need is there.  There will always be people who come looking for a church when they need a wedding or a funeral.  And we will be here for them.  We will be here because there are people who know their need of God is unending and unremitting.  And those are the people who support the church and keep it going by their generosity.  Or so it would seem.

Once the treasurer at our church was worrying a little over the next year's finances because our deficit was small the year before because of one sizable check put in the plate at the end of the year for tax purposes.  What if it isn't a good year for the stock market?

I said to this very dedicated treasurer, "If there were no God you would be absolutely right."  But the truth is, for all of our generosity and giving, everything comes from God.  Even the impulse of that woman to put that check in the offering plate came from God.  One year God may manage to keep us going with a single check.  Another year it may be a general increase in giving as God opens our heart to share Christ's love.

The truth is that for 133 years God has kept my church going, and for two thousand years God has continued to gather enlighten and make holy the whole church on earth.  A big part of the making holy is the opening of our hearts and our pocket books. 

I started writing this column to remind us all to keep our church in our hearts and our checkbooks even when we are away, but I was reminded in the midst of it that we are never out of the heart or mind or treasure of Christ.

Lord, We give thanks for faithful treasurers and stewards but more for You who give us all that we have to share and for your Son and His sprit that keep us in you.  Amen

Copyright 2007, The Rev. Dana Reardon. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Email her at mspastor@aol.com.



The Rev. Dana Reardon is pastor at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, Warwick, RI.  A lifelong Lutheran, she came to ordained ministry after 21 years in nursing, mostly in pediatric intensive care.  She graduated from Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia in 1998 and served 4 years in Upstate New York before becoming a New Englander.  She is still trying to understand the accent.  While in the Upstate New York Synod she chaired the Stewardship Team.  That began her fascination with what makes stewards -- and more, what makes for generosity. She has three amazing daughters: Pastor Reardon says much of what she knows of life she learned from them.