Saturday, March 4, 2017

Something besides cast offs. . .

I am a frugal person.  Some might call me cheap -- as if that is a bad thing!  I like to make funds go as far as possible.  I am as frugal with the resources of the congregation I serve as I am my own.  We have been able to supply the congregation with riches well beyond our ability to afford by careful shopping.  We have a 65 rank Casavant pipe organ that cost us something in the neighborhood of $135K though insurance says it is worth about 5 times that.  We have two heavy weight sterling chalices that we purchased used and had refurbished for a total cost of about $600 each.  Our office furniture was a gift from a bank that was downsizing and closing branches and offices -- good, solid wood mahogany furniture for only the work of loading, transporting, and unloading.  The Lord has allowed us to stretch the resources and we are very thankful.

That said, there is another attitude which is not about frugality or cheapness.  It is one that is born of a spirit alien to the faith.  That is the judgment that somebodies cast offs are all the church deserves.  It is the same spirit that led Judas to complain about the waste of expensive ointment upon Jesus.  There have been voices of that complaint all through the history of the Church.  I am certainly in favor of finding a bargain and reusing good resources where possible but IF we do this because we judge the Church unworthy and ultimately Christ.  That is a problem.

We are currently in the midst of a springtime of new things in our parish.  A very faithful family has given a gift that has made possible improvements to our church kitchen (the first since it was installed in the early 1970s), new bookshelves for our library, some conference room furniture, and a new fridge and stove for a restored second kitchen (the one that served us from 1960-1974).  It is a good thing when such faithfulness provides.  The family certainly is not interested in accolades but I do think it is worth noting that a spirit of generosity and an appreciation for the things of the Lord's House is a good thing.  God bless them.  And we are even now being blessed by this generosity in ways that expand our use of the facility -- again, a good thing, after all, our buildings are not monuments but places where good things happen (from Bible study to services to those in need).

A spirit of generosity always tends to return to the generous more than they give.  It is not a formula for finding peace but it is a mark of the generous that they tend to be peaceful, joyful, and contented Christians.  Giving proceeds from such a God-given heart of love.  The generous do not have to have deep pockets.  Those with meager resources are also generous -- in fact, studies tell us that those on the lower end of the earnings spectrum are most generous!  Most of the generous want nothing known from whom the generosity comes or why.  Their joy is seeing things happen.  On the other hand, some of those who are quick to judge and complain about waste are the ones who find it hard to rejoice in God's gifts -- much less share them.  I am in awe of the generous and my ministry has been encouraged in ways beyond measure by such generosity and giving spirits.  I just wanted in some small way to let the generous know how appreciative we are and to let those who see things happening know that this was made possible by generous people.

1 comment:

John Joseph Flanagan said...

I do not know if American churches really appreciate the blessings they have in terns of relative security, freedom to worship, and material comforts, but so many of their brothers and sisters in the faith experience mostly day to day hunger, poverty, fear, government persecution, and few material comforts. When I was in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, there were some soldiers and Marines who spent their tours in the relative safety of office jobs far from the battles we fought. Then there were those who bore the brunt of the conflict with their sweat, blood, and daily fears for survival. It is the same for spiritual warfare. We should all read Revelation again as a reminder of what God has to say to the churches, which are representative of types one finds in the world.