Peter, a colleague, shared a story with us. He and his wife were not long married when they attended the wedding of some friends. They decided to give their friends a lovely picnic basket – one of the three identical picnic baskets they received when they were married. They didn’t realize that at the bottom of the picnic basket they gave was the tag that had been on the gift when they unwrapped it: “To Peter and Susan.”
Peter and Susan’s relationship with their friends changed forever on that day, and not for the better. Regifting, Peter said, can be risky.
I think that’s true most of the time, but definitely not always. In fact, there is one whole category of gifts we are called to regift: the gifts we receive from God.
As we approach our annual fall pledge campaign (sometimes called our stewardship drive), I am thinking about money. We can think of our financial resources as “earned,” and while that is true in some ways, they are also a gift. God blesses our lives with all kinds of bounty including financial, with the idea that we can and should share it, that we can and should regift it.
Of course, this is true about all God’s gifts, not just financial. God gives us 24 hours each day, hoping that we’ll use about a third of them for renewing our bodies and minds as we sleep. The other 16 are to use in relationship – with our families, with our neighbors, and with God. That makes sense when you remember that Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with your whole being and your neighbor as yourself.
At various stages of our lives, we receive various talents and skills that we are called to share in some way or another, empowering that sharing with love. I was in the Post Office the other day and in front of me in line was an eight-month old in her mother’s arms. The way she watched the world around her and smiled when we caught each other’s eyes what a gift to me, drawing me into her wonder and joy. It was completely natural for her to share her talent with the group in the line.
There’s no shortage of reasons for why we give. Sometimes it’s for the sake of reputation, or as part of a competition, or out of loyalty, or out of a sense of guilt. Sometimes it’s a tax deduction, or a sense of solidarity, or a passion for a cause, or some inner satisfaction that inspires us.
I look forward to hearing from our five church members about their motivations, about what encourages them to be devoted to generosity. I hope you do, too.
In addition to the four sermon/conversations, our pledge campaign will include an introductory letter about the campaign and a letter in late October with a pledge form. For those of you on our email lists, there will be some emails during the month.
It all culminates on November 3 – All Saints Sunday and Pledge Sunday. Worship will be followed by a lunch (a baked potato bar; watch for details).
I hope you will learn and grow from this new approach to our pledge campaign.