“The earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1).
Everything we have is a gift.
In his explanation to the first article of the Apostle’s Creed, Martin Luther puts it this way, “God daily and abundantly provides shoes and clothing, food and drink, house and farm, spouse and children, fields, livestock, and all property—along with all the necessities and nourishment for this body and life. God protects me against all danger and shields and preserves me from all evil. And all this is done out of pure, fatherly, and divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness of mine at all! For all of this I owe it to God to thank and praise, serve and obey him” (Small Catechism).
Next weekend, November 10-11, is Commitment Weekend here at St. John’s. It is the weekend when we bring to worship our completed 2019 Commitment Cards as we, in thanksgiving, give back to God a portion of all that God has first given to us. This year, in addition to our completed 2019 Commitment Cards, it is also the weekend when we will bring back our filled grocery bags for the Grace Lutheran Food Pantry downtown.
Several weeks ago, each of us received our Stewardship Packet either in person at the Stewardship Brunch on October 14 or in the mail that following week. In the information included in that packet, there is a chart that shows how many of our giving households fall into 19 giving ranges from $0.01 and $1.00 a week to $200.00 and $300.00 a week. Upon reviewing the chart, person after person in the congregation has shared with me, “We as a congregation can and must do better!” Simply put, I agree.
Our congregation of St. John’s is excellent in many things. We are excellent in our worship and music ministries. We are excellent in the many and varied ways we reach out into our local community. We are excellent in the variety of small group and learning opportunities we offer throughout the week. We are excellent in our preschool ministry. We are excellent in the way we care for our facilities. However, the reality is that we are not yet excellent in our financial giving to God and to God’s church. While we certainly have many generous disciples, the chart makes evidently clear that we are still a long way off from living into the Biblical model of first-fruits giving, that is, giving the first 10% of all that we have back to God.
This fall’s stewardship theme is Plus ONE as we are all challenged to grow our generous response to God by ONE in the coming year. Perhaps that ONE means an additional 1% of your annual income. Or, perhaps that ONE means an additional one minute of ministry support per week (only a $2/week increase!). Or, perhaps that ONE means moving up one giving range on the chart referenced above. Whichever ONE works best for you, I invite you to grow your generous response to God’s grace in your life.
In the words of so many of our disciples over these past several weeks, “We as a congregation can and must do better.” I can almost hear Martin Luther responding, “This is most certainly true!”
Plus ONE +