As the Book of Common Prayer reminds us, “All things come of thee, O God, and of thine own have we given thee.”
Each breath of our life comes from God. Each dollar in our wallet. Each meal on our plate.
As an act of gratitude, we return a portion of all we receive to God. To facilitate this giving, each fall St. Andrew’s invites pledges of financial contribution for the upcoming year. These pledges enable church leaders to plan appropriately for the ministries of St. Andrew’s.
Because we make our offerings in gratitude, we are able to provide ministries for which others are grateful:
A listening ear and a common prayer at a difficult time. A life-changing experience for a youth. An introduction to Scripture for a child.
A number of our parishioners have written essays on generosity.
WHAT GENEROSITY MEANS TO ME
By Chris Wolterstorff
I suppose I am a relatively independent person. I cook for myself, do my laundry, change the oil in my car. I can patch plaster and paint. I rebuilt my rotting porch—dug foundations, poured concrete, laid a floor, made railings. I don’t depend on other people for much.
Or, maybe I do. Really, there are so many ways I mislead myself.
Last week I exchanged $3 for a basket of apples at the market. And yet—was it apples I was really paying for? If I picked them myself, I could get them for less. I exchanged my money not really for the apples themselves, but for all the people who brought the apples to the market, and hence to me—people who planted and tended the trees, people who climbed up and down \ other people did for me.
Money is an extremely useful tool. It gives things and our work an abstract value and thus makes it possible exchange things around the world, with great benefit. But the abstraction also misleads; it hides the reality that we are always, inevitably, connected to people both near and far. Because I have money, I feel independent. I exchange the money I make for what I need and want. I owe no one anything. I stand on my own two feet. So I think. But in fact I only “make” money because other people have decided that what I do is useful to them; and I exchange that money for what other people have done for me. Perhaps five or ten people helped grow my apples and bring them to the market. Think of how many more are involved when I buy tomatoes grown and harvested by workers in California, and driven across the country to my grocery store. Or think of something more complicated, like my phone, assembled by workers in a factory in Taiwan, made of components and materials that come from workers in mines and factories in several continents. It is often difficult to see that behind the things we buy are people. My life is sustained by the work they do. My life would not be filled with such richness without the work of thousands, perhaps tens or hundreds of thousands of people. My life would not even be possible without what others do for me. I am not independent.
I am not independent materially, and even less so emotionally and spiritually. I am often moved when someone I encounter at work says something particularly kind. More than moved: I am strengthened, refreshed, encouraged, focused. It reminds me how deeply the daily kindness, respect, gratitude of others—family, friends, and strangers—sustain me, direct me, help me know who I am. I am grateful, and lucky, to have a kind and supportive family, to live among people who are not particularly selfish, in a society that is not particularly corrupt or cynical, in a community where even strangers consistently treat me with respect.
I was asked to write about generosity, and—well, I’m getting there. Probably I have been trying to distract you, and myself, with fancy words that seem profound and insightful. Because I am not particularly generous. I hold on to my money and protect my time, hoping that it will calm anxieties about my life and the future. Possibly I am learning to be generous, but I am fickle and inconsistent.
Here is the connection. I am convinced that it is a deep reality of life that we are all dependent on each other. When I am at my best, I am able to push away some of the distractions and deceptions and anxieties that fill my head, and be more aware of how deeply connected I am to so many people. Awareness of that connection makes me more responsive and open to their lives; and openness brings gratitude and generosity. At my best, and at my most faithful, I begin to see that the image of God is in the people I meet, and in everyone I am connected to. When I am at my most faithful, I begin to do what I promise every time we celebrate a baptism: I begin to seek and serve Christ in all persons. When I am at my best and most faithful, I am generous.
One last thing. If I am learning to be generous, it is largely because of you, dear people of God. You have helped open my heart; you are generous in ways that I cannot, or am too afraid, to be; you have shown me what it is like to be generous.
WHAT GENEROSITY MEANS TO ME
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I was asked to write a few words on what generosity means to me to share with my fellow St. Andrew’s parishioners, and I feel blessed to have been asked. When I think of generosity I see examples of it everywhere at St. Andrew’s where our parishioners are relentless in their consistent and abundant use of their time, talents, and treasures as they support our many missions, religious formation programs, church building and grounds, and the many needs of our individual parishioners.
I see generosity in the children who give their time to serve at St. Andrew’s as acolytes or perhaps lay readers or ushers or other lay roles as they serve during the children led services. I see generosity every time someone takes a bag or two of groceries or drops change, cash, or checks into the water filters at the front of the altar before or after our services.
The amount of generosity at St. Andrew’s is mind-boggling when you stop to think of all the many hours our fellow parishioners donate while serving on our Vestry, committees, alter guild, etc. It is difficult for me to comprehend all the selfless generosity that is given time after time at St. Andrew’s. The generosity at St. Andrew’s is so prevalent it permeates the heart and soul of our Church. Generosity is our Culture.
Yes, I see an abundance of generosity everywhere I look at St. Andrew’s and I know you do too! The thing is that there is even more generosity going on behind the scenes that we don’t even see! It is amazing!
In a couple months and possibly over the next 2 years, change will be coming to St. Andrew’s. Change doesn’t have to be a bad thing, in fact often it is a good and necessary thing. Here at St. Andrew’s I know we will be determined to work hard at doing what Jesus has taught us to do, and I know that we will each work even harder to be generous with our time, talents, and treasures. We will cherish and guard the great legacy that our beloved Father Mike has left for us to build on!
The chart below shows how much to give each week as a percentage of income.
You may download it to print.
Proportional Giving Chart
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