A Word from Pastor Stefan
The Spiritual Practice of Giving
And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. --2 Corinthians 9:8
As we journey through Lent together, we reflect on spiritual practices. I am thinking about the spiritual practice of giving. There are many forms of giving. We can give of our time, our abilities, and our money. Your Church Council and Parish Growth and Life members are reading a book called Embracing Stewardship. In it, we are learning how giving (of our time, talents, and money) is a deep spiritual matter. Jesus talks many times in his ministry about money and about our giving of our time and abilities as a way of sharing the blessings we receive from God.
Mid-February, during a Saturday evening service, I was deeply moved when I saw a person in attendance for whom I was praying. She is suffering from cancer and, since last December, has been on hospice care. Deacon Patrick and I visited her before Christmas at her home. And here she sat, surrounded by a couple from our church who brought her to worship. The topic of the service was how God is with us when we are going through a wilderness time in our lives. I am so thankful to the couple from our church who brought her. She received communion and a big hug from me at the end of the service. She said, “I needed to be here.” Right here, we have a spiritual practice: the couple took time to drive to her house and bring her to worship and drive her back home.
Then when Sunday came, there was Bill Fleck. He had come early to church to bring in his handmade crosses. At the end of our children’s message, Bill gave out his crosses to the children as a sign of God’s love for us. It was beautiful to see how the kids stood in line to receive a cross from Bill. Bill understands the connection between giving and our faith in God.
In Embracing Stewardship, we read, “As stewards, God calls us to focus on what we have rather than what we do not have. We are called to look at what we have through the eyes of abundance rather than scarcity. While what we possess may seem meager, we know that God multiplies in abundance. As the apostle Paul writes, ‘And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundance in every good work.’ If God can use a boy’s small lunch of bread and fish to feed five thousand people, surely, God can use your gifts, talents, and money to touch more lives than you can imagine.” (pages 23-24)
I realize we often compartmentalize the topics of faith and money. Jesus does not do that. For Him, handling money and faith is a spiritual matter. For Jesus, everything belongs to God who gives us so much. Think about what God is giving us on Easter morning: the gift of new life, the gift of unconditional love that goes beyond suffering and death.
The Good News of Easter is about a God who gives out of abundance: gives us hope that leads us through darkness to light, gives us the joy of life that is connected and grounded in God. Try giving and gratitude each day of your life. May you discover this God of abundant giving as you join us during Holy Week on Maundy Thursday where Jesus gave us the commandment to love God and our neighbor as we love ourselves. On Good Friday, we discover how much love Jesus has for us when taking our sins to the cross, and on Easter morning, we will hear and see with new eyes how much God gives to this world.
Keep practicing giving, and your heart will be filled with gratitude and joy.