December 8, 2016

Give Him Your Heart

The annual campaign is behind us. “Stewardship minutes” testifying to “reasons I give,” letters bravely asking people to consider tithing, bulletin reminders about pledge cards – gone. Even churches that try to avoid language of obligation may have allowed their treasurer to make an impassioned plea to avoid the dire, but that’s history too. 

Now the peace of Advent has descended. Whew. We can relax. Let the Vestry wrestle with the budget in January. People gave enough to make their congregation’s average pledge hit around the national average of $2,688. Hmmm… Does that mean that the average income of Episcopalians is $26,880? Well, no matter. Maybe next year we can consider talking more about proportional giving. For now, it’s Advent. Carols on the radio signal Christmas is almost here.

That’s when the last verse of In the Bleak Midwinter can make a direct hit on our conscience.

What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him: give my heart.

That is a verse worth pondering…

And if I give my heart, where will that lead?

Will I serve him humbly? Give to those in need?
Oh may my heart burn warmly with his deepest peace;
May I truly mean it when to him all things I release.

Besides inspiring that little contemplative poem from me, In the Bleak Midwinter sets the tone for what can be a glorious, year ‘round stewardship ministry. It can inspire us not to focus on the money, but on gratitude.

How can your congregation emphasize faith in ways that can help people respond to God’s abundance with grateful, joyful obedience - to give Him their hearts?