Revd Rob Lamerton
Pentecost 21, 21st October 2007
Today we have our third and concluding address about our stewardship with a particular focus on our giving to God's Mission
and particularly to our Giving to God's Mission here at St Philip's.
We began two weeks ago with me asking us to think about:
I mentioned two aspects of ministry.
They were essentially all questions about our faith and how we relate to God who is faithful.
The gospel story today concludes with Jesus asking his disciples:
"And yet, when the Son of Man comes,
will he find faith on earth?"
It is the ending to his words about persistence in prayer and suggests that faith is the outcome of a persistent life of prayer!
So I want to say that ALL we do must be prayed about with God. You notice I do not say "prayed for" but "prayed about" and don't say "to God" but "with God"!
Prayer is about turning things over with God. Struggling with God in conversation and listening! (Today is the Day of Prayer for Burma, so in the midst of pondering our life as a parish we are reminded of far bigger issues.)
Jesus told the parable about the need of the disciples "to pray always and NOT lose heart."
As an example he used the story of a widow who approached a judge who had no respect for
BUT eventually he grants justice because of the woman's
Jesus is saying "If the unjust judge will grant justice,
HOW MUCH MORE QUICKLY AND READILY will the God of Justice, Love, Mercy and Peace?"
If in the story a couple of weeks back, Jesus said faith is about willingness to act, in today's story, faith is about prayer.
The stories are not at odds with one another, they simply describe different aspects of faith.
In our gospel story, Jesus speakes of persistence in prayer!
Jeremiah, in recognizing that after war and destruction there will be a new covenant and better times, speaks of persistent hope!
Paul (?) in his letter to Timothy speaks of persistence in a whole lot of things:
This theme of PERSISTENCE must of course flow on to our stewardship — our management of ALL we have.
Stewardship is NOT a particularly Christian term but we find Jesus often talking about households, managers, stewards.
Generally, the words translate the Greek word oikonomos from which we get our word economy. (Now we will hear that word a lot in the weeks to come! Homework could be to see how many times it is used in the debate between Mr Howard and Mr Rudd tonight!)
I am reminded that our stewardship is about our wisdom in the management of ALL that God gives!.
It is NOT just about what we give to the Church or to God's mission here — it applies to ALL of our lives!
The part of this I want to face today is:
WHAT PART of this do I give to the Christian Ministry at St Philip's? And I would like us to see fundraising as something different as over and above our giving.
So I am asking us today to focus on our Giving! So listen today because it will be another year before I talk about it again!
I want us to use today's word PERSISTENCE when talking about giving —— be committed, decisive.
I also want to emphasize the second "P" word — PLANNING.
organize a plan — don't leave it to chance.
And then there is the third "P" word — PROPORTIONAL.
Some people use the tithe method — a tenth. I am not sure that an exact tenth is the way, but working on a certain proportion of one's income is best!
To help us understand the principles I offer three stories:
Busy grandmother, regular church goer…
Grab some change for the plate…
Principle? Giving what is left over — small change
Was it persistent/planned/proportional? NO!
Wealthy businessman, attends occasionally, wife regular worshipper.
Looks at budget
asks: How many on giving list?
so, what is my share?
Divide budget by number of givers…
$50,000 / 50 (long time ago) = $1,000
He was giving to a budget.
His earnings would have been $100,000p.a.
A tithe (tenth) would have been $10,000p.a.
Had he thought about it sacraficially he could have given may more than $1,000
Was there persistence? / planning? YES / proportional? NO
Anglican Priest. How I do it.
My fortnightly pay slip…
Just under one tenth of what I get paid after tax
and I have that paid through Anglican Direct to St Philip's.
I also calculate the value of the use of the Rectory and about one tenth of that is what I give to God via World Vision, Anglicare, Christmas Bowl, etc., etc. So my giving to God's mission is not limited to St Philip's.
Persistent, Planned Proportional
In your calculations you will have other factors to consider. In the end it is an understanding between yourself and God. Not everyone can give in the same way! If incomes are irregular it may be best to work out an average over a period of months or a year to see what a week's earnings might be. The giving can be calculated on that!
Remember St Paul's words: "God loves a cheerful giver"… which really means a person happy and at peace about their giving. If people are distressed and anxious about this then I would say DON"T GIVE! …but still please come to church, be a part of a worshipping community and simply put something on the plate for the loose collection.
In the same way as we expect members of the parish to be good stewards, so too is the Parish Council. I would suggest that the budget each year should provide for 10% to be given away. I have heard of parishes working this up to 50%!!! OR we can agree to give away all fundraising of something similar.
The Parish budget really tells about our priorities; Our Vision! It should also express our faith and have components of growth and outreach. It is the same principle that as we are generous, generosity grows. God's generosity is always total and complete as identified in creation and in Christ on the cross.
So today I encourage you to re-think your committment to God's mission at St Philip's.
And may our persistence in Prayer guide all that we do!