December 1 - 6, 2003  




Crunch Time for Charity
Help! That's what churches and other nonprofits across our nation are saying as the winter approaches, the holidays are on us and the needy crowding at the door. The charities are working heroically as their cupboards and bank accounts are emptying at an alarming rate.
As the articles in this week's Gleanings reveal, the poor economy whacks charities with a double whammy: It impoverishes families who then seek assistance from nonprofits, but it also dries up charitable donations as would-be benefactors tighten their belts.
Meanwhile, we're bombarded with advertisements for Christmas gifts we'll buy mostly for people who don't need them. In fact, the big problem most of us have is finding a gift for people who already have everything they could possibly need or want.
Here's an alternative: Instead of giving Dad yet another power tool to crowd the garage workbench or Aunt Gladys another Icelandic wool sweater to stow away in the cedar chest, make a donation in their name to your congregation's food pantry, to the local soup kitchen, to a church toy drive, to the Salvation Army -- you get the idea.
God knows there are plenty of families that need the help more than your grandson needs a new MP3 player. And isn't that more in keeping with the spirit of Christmas?
What do you think? I welcome your comments.
Rob Blezard, Webmaster


New this week: Dec. 1-6

Martin E. Marty: 'Tipping the Plate'
"Whoever does what Jesus-in-the-gospels did, and examines the collection plate as it goes by, still will find plenty of "mites" or one-dollar bills. ... My bottom line: our giving to all causes, beginning with church, per capita among givers -- and without averaging in non-givers in the population -- is closer to "tipping" than "sacrifice" or "generous giving."
From Sightings, published by the Martin Marty Center.


Stewardship, Faith and Life
"Although we profess a wider understanding of stewardship, we have allowed it to be primarily focused on the giving of money. Even when we add time and talent to our discussion, the message we hear is related to money. We need to focus on the 'need of the giver to give' versus the 'need of the institution to receive.'  " Essay by Duane Englehardt. In the Lutheran Laity Movement Archives.


Gratitude for God's Blessings is Enough
"As I sit between Thanksgiving and the Advent of our God, I plan to just sit and contemplate how selflessly God gives, without any strings and without any obligations.  It is on the silence of that thought that true thankfulness arises."  In Dana Reardon's weekly reflection


Article: Time and Money: When either one runs low, you've got a problem. Are you prepared?  Most pastors are not formally trained in financial management. Yet in many churches, it is the pastor who assumes responsibility for properly managing church finances. Is the pastor aware of the monetary risks that can threaten a ministry? From Your Church magazine.


Too Much of a Good Thing?
"There's no doubt about God's ability to give us more than we can use. But that's the story of the StewardLife. The more we manage well, the more God will give. He promises it in many places in Scripture (Jeremiah 33:8-9; Malachi 3:10b-12, Luke 6:38). Why would He do that? He wants us to be the distributors of His grace and blessings to the whole world in His name." StewardLife from the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod