Today in church we started our stewardship drive aka "The Pledge Drive." This year's them is "Giving is a Gift from God" and we've been challenged to identify the gifts with which we've been blessed, and also to identify the times when we have felt blessed by our giving gifts to others. The lectionary selections were especially appropriate with the start of the campaign. We heard first the Exodus passage (Exodus 16:2-15) where the hungry Israelites grumble and complain about the lack of food. God responds by gifting them with flocks of quail and the "fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground." In the second passage (Matthew 20:1-16) we heard the story of the laborers who complained about the fact that the laborers who worked only a short time were paid the same as they who had worked all day. The meaning that I took from both these stories is two-fold. First, God provides us with what we need, when we need it. And God gifts every single one of us, equally, without regard for how hard we've worked, or how hard we've prayed, or how good we try to be. God's gift of grace and forgiveness are for everyone. I also thought about all the times I've felt cheated or resentful because I didn't get the same "reward" that others got. Instead of finding joy in whatever it was I had received, I focused on what I didn't get, or the "more" that someone else got. These two stories were good to hear today! I needed these reminders.
I'm also hoping (and praying) that as our church makes some budget decisions, we can let go of our tight-fisted Yankee frugality and caution, and open ourselves to new ways of understanding how to spend our limited funds so that we are focusing more on spreading the gift of the Good News, rather than worrying about the future. We are a giving church in time and energy. Our motto is "Always for Others" and we practice what we preach, with a food pantry, emergency shelter, space for AA, Compassionate Friends, a community mother's group, and various other ministries. Yet, I think we worry too much about "dipping into capital" and "saving for a rainy day." As I wrote in my monthly "Moderator's Musing" column for our church newsletter, it's always a struggle to decide what to spend our limited resources on - in some things we have no choice. But we do have choices and I'm praying that we stop being so practical, and learn how to gift our resources to others.