Thursday, June 26, 2008

What Kind of Day Is It?

“Just then Jesus looked up and saw the rich people dropping offerings in the collection plate. Then he saw a poor widow put in two pennies. Jesus said, “The plain truth is that this widow has given the largest offering today. All these others made offerings that they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.” {Luke 21:1-4, The Message}

“How can the church survive if people can no longer afford to give in support of its mission and ministry? This question seems to come up in one form or another in almost every church I visit these days. Given our current economic turmoil and uncertainty it’s no wonder both pastors and laity are concerned about the future of the church. The more I pray and contemplate an appropriate response to the above question the more I find myself coming back to the story of the Widow’s Mite.

As our economy groans under the pressure of escalating fuel prices, a slumping housing market, and an increased cost of living our ability to give that “which we will never miss” gets harder and harder. As a read the Widow’s Mite I believe Jesus didn’t heap a lot of praise for those who simply gave out of their abundance anyway. Perhaps the current economic reality will cause each and every person in the church to look deep within and ask ourselves, “What is God calling me to give?”

Maybe the day has come or soon will when we as the followers of Christ will have to decide that the church and its ministries are worth giving to extravagantly even out of our poverty. In other words, maybe the moment is upon us when we will have to decide that participation in the mission and ministry of the church of Jesus Christ is worth a change of lifestyle with our time, talent, and treasure. Maybe the time has arrived when being numbered among United Methodists in the Greater New Jersey annual conference means that we are willing to give sacrificially to God through the mission and ministry of the church.

Senior Pastor Brian Tome of Crossroads Church in Cincinnati, Ohio ends every staff meeting with the question, “What kind of a day is it? His staff always responds the same way, “It’s a good day to die!” This cryptic phrase embodies the church’s ethic to be a blessing at all costs instead of clinging to self-preservation. They strive to follow Christ’s example of blessing people by giving everything all the time. Being a blessing is a passion that permeates everything they are, say, and do. May we also be filled with a passion to be a blessing at all costs and may God bless us and others through us as we, like the Widow, offer everything to God.

--Rich Henderson, Coordinator of Stewardship Education and Development, Greater New Jersey Annual Conference

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