He (Jesus) looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.’ ~ Luke 21:1-4
At this time of Thanksgiving, it is customary to count one’s blessings and be grateful for them. Also during this time of year, our church asks us to prayerfully consider our gifts to support its ministries in the coming year.
On Commitment Sunday (the anniversary of our church’s founding in 1945), the sermon scripture was the one noted above about the poor widow who gave everything she had to the temple. Her generosity was striking. It does not indicate if she were joyful or not, but our pastor inspired us to be joyful givers who delight in the gift, not grumpy ones who feel like they HAVE to give something.
To help us remember this attitude of generosity, we were invited to take two pennies back to our pews from a display at the altar rail. Not having any pockets, I put them into my wallet’s coin purse, where they were soon mixed in with the other coins, out of my sight and mind.
Swirling behind this scene, political battles continue to be fought over taxation rates and spending excesses. The forces go back and forth, and even now, post election, the rhetoric flies. Questions abound: Will our tax rates go up? Will our deductions be capped? When will this happen, and how will it affect our cash flow and charitable giving?
With all this uncertainty, Joel and I talked a lot about not increasing our pledge, just to be sure we won’t find ourselves short. But ultimately, we decided that this was the wrong attitude. We agreed to be bold and “out of our abundance”, give joyfully to our church. Even if charitable deductions are capped, we will still commit to our pledge.
Let me be clear. We love our church, and are absolutely delighted to give generously to it and to other local non-profits which we support. We know that our donations are appreciated and being used in a positive manner of which we approve. We are NOT so delighted to give any more money than the vast amount we already give to our federal government, which can’t seem to stanch its spending, much of it to causes we do not support, and much of it overreaching and unwarranted.
In our house, we have a need list and a want list. First come the needs, and then the wants. It should be the same with our government. Right now, reducing the massive debt is THE need. Everything else must wait. Sorry about things like social experiments, subsidies, stimuli and certain foreign aid.
Our want list? A new car? Continued garden improvements? Long overdue home repairs? Building a vacation home for retirement days? Nope. Sorry about that, economy. My ten year car will have to do for the time being, and I hope that our landscaper, handyman and construction folks will be ok without our business.
Having said all this, it sounds petty to even voice a complaint, given that many people would love my perceived want list. I am abundantly blessed, come what may, and I do appreciate it.
However, our children and our children’s children will be bearing the burden of paying the federal debt off for decades, maybe even their entire lives, and that is why I feel it’s important to stop the extraneous spending NOW and get back to some semblance of balance. I don’t think young people today truly appreciate what their future financial burden will be. It would be nice for them to be able to keep more of their hard earned money, instead of having to pay off a debt not of their own making.
Maybe we’ll be eating beans, but oh well! We’ll be happy about it… I like beans. Joel swears that I would be perfectly happy eating cheese and crackers and raisins every day. True.
Two days after putting the two cents from church into my wallet, I was out walking Tucker. There in the street, I found two other shiny pennies. I have to admit, I was thrilled to see them, and I picked them up and savored them before putting them in my pocket. Was it an affirmation from God? Who am I to conjecture about such a thing? All I know is that they were a NEW reminder to me of what’s important and what is not.
I know not what the future holds for us personally or for our country generally. But I can say that whatever happens, we will all live. I hope we will all corporately live with generous hearts, but that may be asking for too much.
Two cents. I’ve just given you mine. Love one another, and have a blessed Thanksgiving!
(by the way, after doing the wash, I found those two cents AGAIN in the bottom of the washing machine, where they had fallen out of my pocket. Yet another reminder!)
…pewperson will return on Dec. 7.