Did You Hear the One About…? 40 Days with Cartoon Church
Day 32 – Thursday after 5th Sunday of Lent
From the Scriptures:
Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon the earth; where the rust and moth doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven; where neither rust nor moth doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal. (St. Matt 6)
Zacchaeus stood forth, and said unto the Lord, Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have done any wrong to any man, I restore four-fold. (St. Luke 19)
He that soweth little shall reap little; and he that soweth plenteously shall reap plenteously. Let every man do according as he is disposed in his heart, not grudging, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver. (2 Cor 9)
Be merciful after thy power. If thou hast much, give plenteously; if thou hast little, do thy diligence gladly to give of that little: for so gatherest thou thyself a good reward in the day of necessity. (Tobit 4)
This week, at the £1-a-bag grocery shop our parish runs using waste food from Morrison, Tesco and Anchor Bakery in Felixstowe, much excitement was present. We were given our first new 12-sided £1 coins in exchange for a bag of groceries. My churchwarden proudly held it up to me saying, triumphantly, ‘I bet you have not seen one of these yet?’ To my embarrassment I had to admit to having had one in my possession since Christmas. For the last 15 years, my wife’s combined Christmas and birthday gift to me has been the Brilliant Uncirculated set of United Kingdom coins for the coming year.
I am not a fanatical numismatist but the reason I started taking a casual interest in coins was because of the right hand column in today’s cartoon. As chaplain to St Martin’s School in Johannesburg it was an interesting adventure to sort through the collection at the first church service after the long summer holiday. The coinage, mostly copper, reflected every country that had been visited on holiday and gave me the starting point for many a pastoral conversation – and the beginnings of an enduring hobby. Once, there was even a banknote in the collection, sadly $2 Canadian would not buy very much in downtown Johannesburg. That banknote has been laminated and is now used as a bookmark in my journal as a reminder to pray for the children of Africa…
Giving money, and deciding how much to give to support God’s work is something that is a challenge to every single church community. It takes up immense amounts of the time and energy of the Body of Christ that could be far better spent in active service for the Gospel.
I do not want foe one moment to belittle the work of those who bend their financial minds to financing the Gospel; the Church has been incredibly well served by them. However if the average person in the pew were a little more faithful in their giving the average treasurer’s life would be less worrisome and we would see them smile more frequently.
Those of you who ‘read, marked, learnt, and inwardly digested’ the words of the Book of Common Prayer with their mother’s milk would have quickly recognised today’s scripture verses as coming from the Offertory at the Communion service. They are ‘strong meat’ when it comes to challenging the lack of generosity shown by many Christians; yet they are also a call to deeper commitment to those who see the gift of money as part of their vocation to service.
I was tempted to simply post every exhortation that is offered for use I the Prayer Book and then add ‘go, and do thou likewise’ as my only words to go with this cartoon. That would not have been fair as it leaves even the faithful with feelings of guilt and ‘could do better’ marked down on their divine report card. Giving can never be about guilt and when we allow that to happen we make a travesty of the good news.
All giving begins with generosity, not ours but the generosity of God. And every time we adjust our Direct Debit to the church, every time we put a regular amount of money in a weekly envelope, every time we scratch around in our purse for lose change or the odd banknote, we say ‘thank-you’ to the One who gave us more than we deserve and pray that our offering would be turned into gospel deeds.
Lesley-Anne and I, after Easter, will have been married for 37 years. We have always given back at least 10% of our income to the work of the church. There have been hard times, our children grew up eating date expired food that the supermarkets were throwing away, and our future is uncertain as we have no home of our own in which to retire and neither of us has a full pension. Yet, we continue to at least tithe our income. You see, we have received too much to do anything else and we refuse to make the mistake of starting to trust in ourselves instead of trusting the Beloved who gave and gives us life.
So, trying to put our life lessons into words here are some simple guidelines for giving.
If when you give you feel guilty, don’t give.
If when you give you feel you don’t do it thankfully, don’t give.
If when you give you feel that this will make God love you, don’t give.
If when you look at your money you give what you can.
If when you look at your money you know that all is spent in godly ways.
If when you look at your money you are thankful that God is indeed your Provider.
Then know that you are indeed ‘laying up for yourselves treasures in heaven; where neither rust nor moth doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal.’ and enter into the joy that comes from the knowledge that, ‘God loveth a cheerful giver’.
Lord God, gracious and merciful,
may we be faithful to our baptismal calling,
ardently desire the communion of Christ’s body and blood,
and serve the poor of your people
and all who need your love.
(from the Church in Peru)
- Write a note of thanks to your Treasurer, Giving Coordinator,and whomever it is that counts and banks the collection in your church.
- This could backfire but ‘God loves a cheerful giver’…..Have a look at your own level of giving to your church and if you do it with any grudge or hesitation whatsoever stop giving today!
- However… if you feel you could increase your giving, do so and enjoy the feeling that comes from promoting the work of the Gospel in your community.
One of the ways in which we can give to God’s work in church and community is by making a legacy so that your gift continues once you can no longer use the goods of this world. The Church of England has suggestions on how to leave a legacy and write a will here:
All Cartoons are copyright © Dave Walker. Please visit http://www.cartoonchurch.com if you would like to laugh even more J
Prayers are from the collection ‘Praying with the World Church’ compiled by USPG.
Please support their work by visiting http://www.uspg.org.uk
Text from The Book of Common Prayer, the rights in which are vested in the Crown, is reproduced by permission of the Crown’s Patentee, Cambridge University Press.
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
These Reflections, ‘Did You Hear the One About…’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2017