Grace builds on nature. I read that somewhere a long time ago. Grace builds on nature, which is a gift of grace to begin with–and that includes human nature. Our loving Creator knows us inside and out, and God builds on what God has already built in.
And one of the things God built into us is our need for community. Right there in the second chapter of Genesis, God says, “It is not good for the person to be alone” (2:18, Complete Jewish Bible). It’s a basic human need. We need to gather together; we need to have other people around. Some people feel that need more strongly than others. We call them extroverts. But even introverts get lonely. People need people.
That’s why we gather to worship in community every Sunday, why we gather together as a community of women created in the image of God. We are blessed by the presence of God in the presence of others.
But right now, the spread of the novel coronavirus makes that too risky. Public health authorities worldwide are urging us to slow the spread of the coronavirus by avoiding gatherings of more than a few people. Following their guidance, many of us are working or learning at home, instead of in our offices or classrooms. Our congregations have suspended public worship and meetings. This is hard.
Continue being community
But we can continue being the community of women created in the image of God, even if we can’t gather in person. We can gather by phone, by mail, by email, by social media, and video teleconferencing.
We can keep our community going in the sure and certain hope that this lonely time in the wilderness will not last forever. We hope that the scientists and researchers are working furiously to find a prevention, and a cure will succeed. And we will rejoice in the renewal of our community life–together.
That’s stewardship. Stewardship means taking care of things now with the future in mind. It’s a sign of sure and certain hope that we will get through whatever storms come our way. Farmers understand this well.
When we take care of our communities and congregations with our generous financial support, we are taking care of them through the storm, for the future. We can be good stewards of our community of women that way too, even if we aren’t able to gather in person. It’s acting boldly on our confidence in our future–when we can once again gather together, face to face.
Audrey Novak Riley is director for stewardship for Women of the ELCA. Photo by Elizabeth McBride of the Nicollete Diner in Minneapolis.
Act boldly on your confidence in the future
Regular offerings are the lifeblood of our community of women in all our expressions: congregational, synodical, and churchwide. Women make a regular offering at every local gathering–Bible study, quilting, Cafe groups, whatever. These regular offerings are collected by the treasurer of the congregational unit, who keeps some for the ministries of the congregational unit and forwards the rest to the synodical women’s organization. The synodical women’s organization keeps some for its ministries and forwards the rest to the churchwide women’s organization for its ministries. This is a living example of the interdependence called for by our founders and the framers of our constitutions.
But how can we make regular offerings when we aren’t gathering in person? By mail. Make out your check to Women of the ELCA and write “Regular offering” on the memo line. Mail it to your congregational unit treasurer.
Congregational unit treasurers, please handle regular offerings as usual–deposit the offerings, keep an agreed amount for the congregational unit’s ministries, and mail a check for the rest to the treasurer of your synodical women’s organization with a copy of Form A so she can credit the gift to your unit.
We can also make Thankofferings and “Where Needed Most” gifts any time. Individuals, please make out your check to Women of the ELCA and write “Thankoffering” or “Where Needed Most” on the memo line, and mail it to the address below, or give online at welca.org/donate.
Congregational unit treasurers, please make out your unit’s check the same way, and fill out a copy of Form B so we can credit the offering to your unit.
Mail Thankofferings and “Where Needed Most” gifts to:
Women of the ELCA
c/o ELCA Gift Processing
P.O. Box 1809
Merrifield, VA 22116-8009
Thank you. You really do make a difference in people’s lives. Thank you.