RIDDLE stewardship talk (given on Sunday, December 11, 2016)
I was asked to talk about giving and my personal experiences with giving …
I grew up in an Episcopal church and heard lots of talks about giving. Do you know how I reacted to hearing this? Well, I just told myself that giving is for adults! It did not concern me.
I grew into my teens and twenties and found myself more influenced by science one week and some form of exotic Far Eastern meditation the next week. I did not forget the Bible stories and relationships with Christians that I had as a child. So, I had a soft spot for Christianity, but I wanted to feel modern, open-minded, and “with it.” I occasionally gave money to secular do-gooder groups but not to the Church.
As I entered middle age, I was confronted by things about the world and about myself things that I did not want to think about. I had not wanted to see these things when I was 12, or 20, or even 30 years old. But I was now more willing to pray, to read scripture, and to join a church.
I liked a lot of what I was learning. But there were two big things that I did not like: Forgiving and Giving.
Forgiving was made harder because I sort of enjoyed the self-righteous feeling of holding a grudge. I felt more in control when I had a grudge against someone. I felt entitled.
Now, when I realized that I had been forgiven, I began to trust God and hand over some of those grudges to Him. Wow! It felt good to forgive. Forgiving seemed to result in feeling more freedom and happiness.
Holding on to grudges is not the same as holding on to money. It’s hard to explain; but when I began to pledge and share regularly with my faith community, I again felt this sort of release, this freedom. I recommend this to you.
I read one of those inspirational poems written by Helen Steiner Rice. The poem, “The Key to Life and Living,” compares the two seas in Palestine that we see mentioned over and over in the Bible. The Sea of Galilee has water flowing into it, but also flowing out of it. The Dead Sea also has water flowing into it, but not out of it; it does not give. The last few lines of the poem go like this:
And in the laughing, living sea
That takes and gives so generously
We find the way to Life and Living
Is not in Keeping, but in Giving!
Yes, there are two Palestinian Seas
And mankind is fashioned after these!