“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 21:19
Hillary asked me to write to you today on why I give. My experience of giving goes back to very early days growing up in Arlington, as I attended Epiphany Episcopal Church…another “church on the corner” of Quincy St. and 20th Rd, just off Lee Highway in Cherrydale. Our nursery school class, had our own service and we were encouraged to let our “pennies fall” into the basket. We were assured that “every one was for Jesus” and “he would use them ALL.”
Before long Epiphany merged with Grace Episcopal Church and became St. Andrews. There I grew into a deeper level of faith. I came to understand the concept of stewardship–that all we have is from God and that he has entrusted it to us to care for and nurture. From this, I further gained the notion that giving had more to do with ME than Jesus. This is laid the groundwork for my life in giving in the Episcopal Church
As a teen and into adulthood, I have passed through many stages in my giving journey, sometimes putting more emphasis on “storing up treasure on earth” than I’d like to admit. While raising my family there were seven interstate moves. In each place I “settled,” I found a church that seemed to meet me where I was, nourish me with just what was needed at the time, and provided the focus of my friendships and activities.
Each church had a different approach with the Fall Annual Giving campaign. With some churches, it was a straightforward ask. Once we participated in the Pony Express, where teams made personal visits from one household to another, racing to move a satchel of pledges to every member before the Sharing Sunday the next week. Then there was the financial planning seminar, where the speaker rejected the idea of “moving towards a tithe.” He took the Nike approach. “Just do it,” he invited, offering if we dared to trust in this radical way, he would personally pay any of our unmet obligations at the end of the year.
As a young mother, the concept of stewardship took hold as three gorgeous babies came into my life, one by one, blessing me in ways I had not imagined. From the very start, I had a strong sense that they were not truly MINE, but that God had entrusted them to me to raise and return to Him. In the midst of the moves, this ingrained sense of stewardship, extended to family finances as well. Giving became more intentional. We tithed paychecks, bonus checks, a family inheritance…even unemployment checks. The more I trusted God with my finances, the more involved I became with His people and His work.
Since striking out on my own as a single person, I find that I am not very good at being a “lily of the field.” Finances have been a concern, especially setting aside funds for retirement. Riding the roller coaster of valuation changes in IRAs, 401ks, home equity over the past decade has been a challenge. While being mindful to set aside funds for future needs, I find that when allow myself truly rest in God’s presence, whether here with you at Epiphany, or in my quiet time at home, I am assured that investing in God’s Kingdom is my best bet.
…and I am more convinced than ever that in the pledging to support God’s work in His Church is not so much about raising funds as it is raising servants.