In the languid days of midsummer, when church financial income is at low ebb, it is a comfort to remember that Paul too had stewardship issues in his churches. It’s not a new phenomenon. It turns out that every generation of Christians has managed to find something else to do with their hard-earned money besides offer it to the work of the body of Christ.
Sometimes we are most afraid of what we most need. It’s one of the more perplexing mysteries of the human heart. Happiness, peace, healing and all the other elements of fullness of life can be right in front of us, but instead of embracing them, we back away in fear.
The verb regift was not in my vocabulary until this season, but now I see it leaping out from a sheaf of magazine covers. Webster’s newest edition includes regift: “to give as a gift something one previously received as a gift.
The best gift I ever received was something I never wanted. A few days before I finished my 12th and final year as pastor of a church I loved deeply, the congregation’s lay leader shuffled into my office.
In the mid-1980s I attended a church that still honored “Money Sunday,” a practice begun in the 1950s. Once a year members of the congregation gathered to make financial pledges to support missions efforts. As the pledges were collected, the minister would read the amounts aloud from the pulpit: “Here’s one for $50. . . . Here’s another for $100 and one for $1,000!” Occasionally a pledge came in for, say, $10,000, eliciting all sorts of approving oohs and aahs from the congregation.