One of my favorite “new” hymns is “Take My Gifts”.
Take my gifts and let me love you, God who first of all loved me,
gave me light and food and shelter, gave me life and set me free,
now because your love has touched me, I have love to give away,
now the bread of love is rising, loaves of love to multiply!
“From Bread and Cup – Faith and Giving.” This is the theme for stewardship in the United Church of Christ this year. It resonates with me. Because of all that God has done for me, my response is gratitude shown in my attitude and my giving. Because we have received such Grace, our lives are full to overflowing and we allow that Grace to flow to others through our giving.
There is a tradition, as old as ancient times, that the first fruits of the harvest were given at the Temple in gratitude for the harvest itself. Our lives are dependent on so much even if we shout out about rugged individualism. How much sun, how much rain has always affected human’s lives. Giving is always a form of gratitude.
I believe giving to the church is also a form of faith in the future. We are a people of faith and hope. Hope is not just something to be wished. It is something to make actual. We have the capacity through the grounding faith of the Church, to make the hopes of people a reality. Because we can join them in their quest for justice, we bring hope. Because we can fill a food pantry or supply the equipment for emergency clean-up after a disaster, we make hope real. Because we offer music that fills empty souls, words that inspire decisive action, prayers that comfort the comfortless, we bring hope. Because we support the ministry of the church in the life of the community, we are hope-bringers. Our faith and our giving are inextricably bound.
Our giving is our witness to this abundant love of God for each of us. Our giving is our witness that hope and justice are possible. Our giving makes our church’s witness possible.
We thank you for your prayerful consideration about how you will give this next year.