Yesterday, I finally did it. Shortly after moving to Chicago in October, I started attending church at a congregation near my apartment. It is very near. My average Sunday-morning commute is 3 minutes — on foot. Maybe the path to church was too easy. Most Sundays, I did not have to think ahead and prepare for how to get there or what to bring. Consequently, every Sunday, I found myself sitting in the sanctuary without cash or a check. So, when the offering plate came, I did not have a way to give. And, every Sunday, I thought, “I’ve been meaning to make my offering through the congregation’s website.” Then, yesterday, I went to the church website and signed up to make a monthly donation that will be automatically deducted from my bank account. This simple action took all of 5 minutes. Finally, I turned “I’ve been meaning to” into “I did.”
I should really stop using this phrase – “I’ve been meaning to.” Do you know it? As in, I’ve been meaning to call a friend, send an email, start praying more often, give to the church. After all, my faith does not call me to intend to act. My faith calls me to act. Either I did give to my church or I did not give to my church.
Did you read the article by Peter Marty in the March issue of Gather? He reflects on the Biblical story of the poor widow (in Mark 12:41-44) who puts two small copper coins in the temple offering and is commended by Jesus because she gave all that she had to give. Marty writes, “It could be that she used her offering that day not to demonstrate to God the person she was, but to begin the process of becoming the person she wanted to be.” Marty thinks this is the kind of giving act that Jesus calls us to: “Jesus does not tell us that our treasure follows the path of our hearts. Instead he indicates that our hearts typically follow the path of our treasure.”
I’m excited about my monthly donation to the church. I am excited because, by taking this step, I am beginning the process of becoming a person who gives money to her congregation. No matter what I have intended, until yesterday, that was not me.
This weekend, I will gather with 18 women who have taken on the task of helping us all to become the kind of givers we want to be. They are new treasurers for the synodical women’s organizations, and they are coming to Chicago for the 2012 Treasurers Training Event. Please hold us in prayer. And, please join us in reflection and preparation as we strive to inspire and support women to act boldly on their faith. That is our mission as Women of the ELCA. How will we replace stewardship intentions with stewardship actions?
Emma Crossen is director for stewardship and development.