March 18, 2014

Are We Prepared to Receive?

How an invitation or gift is received can be a telling indicator….

I live in small city. The other night I was coming out of a restaurant with some girl friends and found a wallet on the ground near my car. I looked inside and found a cell phone and credit cards. 

Wallet in hand, I got in my car and headed home, intending to call the owner. I got as far as Grand Avenue, the main street in St. Paul. There I saw a police car parked on the side of the road. “Wonderful timing!” I thought and pulled over. 

I got out of my car and motioned to the police officer to do the same. Explaining my situation, I handed the officer the wallet and asked if he would take care of it. The officer declined, saying he worked in the narcotics division and that his protocol required that he file it as evidence rather then call the owner.

After thanking the policeman, I got back in my car and drove home. Using the owner’s phone, I was able to look through the stored contacts until I found the wallet’s owner. Within a couple hours, the wallet had been returned to its owner. 

At 6:00 am the next day texts and phone calls started. Something about being seen on the main street, out of my car, talking to a police officer at 9:30 pm at night made people wonder if I was in trouble. I guess, “No good deed goes unpunished.” 

This whole bizarre story has me reflecting on the role of our Church especially in regards to financial practices.

How often do we, with the best of intentions, offer our gifts to find that there isn’t an acceptance protocol in place? Perhaps our idea is a good one --- even a legitimate one, yet, like offering the wallet to the police officer, there isn’t an internal strategy for receiving gifts. And, just as importantly, what is the cost we pay when our gifts are turned down?

Does your parish have gift acceptance policies? Are there ways for individuals to give gifts in a variety of ways? 

What does your parish communicate when a gift is offered? Gratefulness, or…something else?