A Pastoral Letter On Christian Giving
“To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.” (Jude 1:1-2)
Teaching on Christian giving must always be reviewed and renewed. Like all other things we forget; and so hear the word of the Lord.
The first thing that we should learn today is that Christian giving is an act of Christian worship. Indeed, the Offertory, which is (interestingly) the first move in the Liturgy of the Sacrament is the time when the baptized offer their gifts to God.
It is the earliest and unbroken practice of the church for God’s people to bring their gifts to the altar: bread and wine for the Eucharist; currency and other commodities for the support of the church and the clergy; and the all-important matter of distributing gifts of love to the poor, aged, widows and orphans. These three purposes (Eucharist, support of church / clergy, aid to the poor) have remained constant throughout Christian history. That’s a very long time! A powerful precedent.
Today, because we live in a different type of economy, people bring their offerings in the form of currency which represents their labor, but is used for the same 3 purposes as stated above. And so our offerings are not donations such as one might make to a charitable cause, or simply budgetary necessities, but acts of worship. Just like in the feeding miracles we offer God a portion of what he has first given to us, and he returns it to us multiplied! We offer him bread and wine, he returns it as the body and blood of Christ – the medicine of immortality.
Please note that while the ushers are gathering the offering the celebrant is moving the bread and wine (offered by the people) to the altar. That is a planned move. An act of holy worship on the part of God’s priest and people.
This being the case no one should ever come to church empty-handed. The amount you give is not at issue, but only that you give something. While the Old Testament rule for giving was 10% there is no such rule in the New Testament. Only this: Give as God has prospered you. (1 Cor. 16:2)
If you have been richly blessed then give generously, if you are in dire straits then give little but offer something. We might also add this practical point, that you should not give God your leftovers but make this act of Christian worship the first item of your budget; even as the center of your week should be Holy Communion with Christ, all other things coming after.
Again no one should come empty-handed. Even children should be taught to participate in giving gifts to their God and Savior. It is something they delight in doing, and goes a long way in making them feel like they are part of the body, which they are.
Also as a practical matter if a person must miss worship for some unavoidable reason he should remember to bring the missed offering upon his return to God’s house.
So let each person examine himself to see if his giving is in accord with the blessings he has received from God. Let each person make Holy Communion the chief priority of his life. Let each person worship God with his offerings even as he does with his prayers, praise and thanksgiving.
Before we leave the subject we should consider on more important, if tender, point. Sometimes members hold back their offerings (and attendance) in protest over some point of dissatisfaction. If this is ever the case a person should do one of two things: 1.) seek to resolve the conflict with all their heart, 2.) or join another church. Life is too short, our holy Christian faith too precious, and this act of Christian worship too towering to be interrupted by unresolved conflict.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!
More in Pastor's Blog
April 21, 2023Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
April 7, 2023Hermeneutics
February 1, 2023What Is The Book Of Hebrews - The Complete Work Of Christ