By the Rev. Christopher Potter, Vicar
The values in the Reign of God, as taught by Jesus, are mostly opposite the values we witness day-to-day. Poor is rich, losing one’s life is the way to save it, humble service is the way to greatness, and so many more.
One of the values in the Reign of God that is often overlooked is the way we perceive and manage money. It’s such a taboo topic that it is considered impolite to mention it, even with our children. Jesus did, however, speak many times about money. True to the topsy-turvy world of the Reign of God, Jesus upends our understanding while giving us another view of it.
After the Family Meeting in January, many who responded to the parish survey said that they would like to learn about the spiritual side of giving back to God; either in tithing goods or service, or the spiritual benefits of supporting the church. On Wednesday night I presented to the Bishop’s Committee this admittedly rough outline on an approach to giving. We are beginning a journey, inspired by our Treasurer, Elizabeth, on seeing money in a different way: how to maintain proper oversight as fiduciaries, but how to look at the bigger questions like how is St. John’s utilizing its assets to further our Vision and Mission?
Validating the abundance of God (as if that were necessary), St. John’s was blessed by the generosity of several members of the community who pooled their resources and donated $25,000 for a ‘matching gift’ program for those who hadn’t yet pledged, and for those who were able to increase their pledge. This blessing far exceeded our goal! Then, the hand of God was seen in Cindy’s office when she opened the mail to find a gift to the Church (and school!) from an unexpected source in the amount of almost $8,000! I think a simultaneous cry arose from us both as we said, “Thank God.” What this all means is that, because of God’s activity in people’s lives, we are now able to keep Rev. Karen at full time, full salary this year! We approved an amended budget last Wednesday reflecting our commitment to step out in faith. Also, we are trusting that God will help us in our efforts to restore the full salary of our choir leads and the return of our beloved Carolyn as accompanist for the choir.
In its fuller form, this outline has many quotes from scripture and some theological reflections on each point. I present it here in its briefest arrangement and will follow up with each point later.
How can we Episcopalians take a different look at money:
1. Our financial situation is almost always a reflection on our level of trust in God.
2. Don’t fret about the future. Trust in God for THIS DAY. If God cares so much for the birds and lilies, how much more does God care for you? As our Treasurer — and some other deeply spiritual people on the Bishop’s Committee — reminds us, “Trust God, but plant some seeds!”
3. All things belong to God. We are heirs.
4. As heirs, God gives us what we have to MANAGE; we are not owners. Showing gratitude for what we have, we give back.
a. Hebrew tradition: Tithe = 10%
b. Jesus – “Give generously in proportion to how generous you want God to be for you (Lk. 6:38).
5. Our desire to serve God must be greater than our desire for money.
6. When in financial distress, God invites us to trust God MORE!
7. Debt is a symptom of an obsession with money.
8. In God’s world (the Reign of God), the more we give, the more God gives us.
a. In our world, the more we hold on to money, the more we THINK we have.
9. Choose contentment.
a. It is not a life of scarcity that awaits us, but a life of simplicity.
I hope this starts us praying and thinking our way into a new relationship with money, if you are looking for one. As we see the needs of others around us only becoming greater, we are simultaneously being asked to respond.
God’s abundant blessings be ours, as we learn that the more we give away, the more we will be given. ⬛️
Our online regular online gatherings for this week — Sunday, March 21 through Saturday, March 27 — are below. If you aren’t on my Saturday e-blast that contains the worship links and the Wednesday Bible Fellowship, email me and I’ll add you.
• Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday Morning Prayer, 9 a.m. Here’s the worship bulletin for Sunday, March 21.
• Adult Forum, Sunday, 11 a.m. Our guest leader is Linda Allport who is surveying a selection of ideas from our Judeo-Christian heritage. If you didn’t receive my Saturday e-blast, please email Linda for link.
• Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday Evening Prayer, 8 p.m.
• Bible Fellowship Wednesdays, 6 p.m.
Children’s Ministry News from Corey Gonsalves:
“Hello Godly Play Friends! Here’s the link to our fifth lesson in our Mystery of Easter teachings along with a beautiful video from the Godly Play Foundation about the mystery of Easter. As a reminder, craft/art project supplies will be dropped off this week. It’s not too late to request supplies if your child(ren) is interested in receiving the individually packaged items please let me know by Tuesday.”
My (Rev. Christopher) Zoom office hours are Tuesdays at 10 a.m. Here’s my Zoom link.
Rev. Karen’s Zoom office hours are Thursdays at 10 a.m. Here’s Rev. Karen’s Zoom link.
In the name of Jesus,