Monday, December 03, 2012

Knapsack 12-3-12

Notes from my Knapsack - Newark Central Dec. 3, 2012

Christmastime is filled with opportunities to give.

That's preacher-speak for "you get asked to give to lots of stuff"!

It's true, whether in church life or in the community, the end of the calendar year is filled with all sorts of appeals and requests and urgent notifications of the needs of non-profits and helping agencies all around (not to mention your college alumni associations).

It can feel overwhelming, and someone coined the phrase "compassion fatigue" which neatly sums up what can happen as you open your mail at home or click around on the internet.

The Bible, on the other hand, says "And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart." (Galatians 6:9)

We already know, as Christians, that you don't earn your way into God's love, but it is given us freely -- that's grace! But our response to God's grace is an important form of witness that the world watches for from we who believe. So when you pile up those request envelopes and cards of reminder to give to this or that, give thanks first of all that you have the ability to give anything, anything at all. Figure out, using your personal budget (you've got a budget, right?) what you can give and how that fits into your general witness of stewardship -- how you use what God has blessed us with -- and then work with that number, and the requests you've received.

Yes, it can be hard, but if guilt is your main feeling when you honestly sit down and look at what's before you, then you need to work on where the guilt's coming from! If you need to give more in general, that's between you and God, but when you know in your heart and your pocketbook what you're supposed to share with others, it's a real adventure to look at where and how you'll give, and ask "how does this work reflect the values and priorities I feel God is calling me to embody and share and represent, in my own life?"

When you give to the Christmas offering (envelopes on the Welcome Center!), it's a chance to support the wider work of the Disciples around the US & Canada. When you decide which helping and healing ministries you want to affirm with your gifts, it's a chance to make clear to the world where your heart is; or as I mentioned last Sunday with Bob Pierce of WorldVision, "Let my heart be broken by the things which break the heart of God."

Enjoy the process of deciding where your blessings will go, and finally: pray for them to bear fruit, and to show grace where you can't be yourself! That's where you really feel the hand of God at work in the whole process of giving.

In grace and peace, Pastor Jeff

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