This Sunday, as a part of our thanksgiving for all those who have shared God’s love—for all God’s saints—we have been asked to lean into the material side of our response to that love. It’s All Saints’ Day and it’s Commitment Sunday, when we’re asked to make a clear statement about what we can do to support St. Peter’s.
Let’s be honest: talking about giving money to the church is, for most of us, a reliable trigger for uneasy looks and halting remarks. And, just like a salt dome tells a geologist that there’s probably oil underneath, this awkwardness tells most of us that there’s probably some discomfort beneath, centered around the intersection between ourselves, our money, and God.
We avoid this intersection for good, Gospel-based reasons. In the parables and stories of Jesus, the rich man is never who you want to be. But then, it’s not easy to aspire to the painful, anxious poverty that gets such good coverage in the same places.
Jesus talks of the wealthy, the kingdom of heaven, camels, and eyes of needles, in a way that discomfits any thoughtful person who feels fiscally comfortable. And then he mixes hope with our despair: “but with God all things are possible.”
Last Sunday’s reading from Sirach asks us to think of all the good things that our eyes see and our ears hear, of all the love that our hearts feel, to recognize that as the generosity of God, and then to use God’s example as our guide for giving—not as transactions, but as habitual acts that spring from the habit of love.
At St. Peter’s, through God’s grace, we find so many good things—fellowship, friendship, food, kindness, beauty, comfort, education, warmth, wisdom, music, joy, peace, wonder, and love—all offered one to another and to the world around us and to God. Never as a payment. Offered. Given. Unconditionally.
So, when we walk up our pledges for the coming year, we are not offering bribes, nor boasting to one another, but as God’s holy people, his saints, we are acting out thoughtfully and lovingly what we have said habitually: “All things come of thee, O Lord, and of thine own have we given thee.”
Chris Cudabac, for the Annual Fund Team