Pastor’s October Column
The month of October brings us to the season of Stewardship – our annual opportunity to make commitments for supporting the work of HPC in the coming year. In 2017, we are also commemorating the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, symbolically associated with Martin Luther’s posting of topics for debate on the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. These two themes are deeply intertwined.
A hallmark of the Reformation was the idea that all people are gifted by God with skills, abilities, talents, and opportunities. All of us are “called” by God to give glory to God through the work we do. We are also urged to honor God and serve others by how we use the income from our work. The Reformers brought back the biblical idea of tithing, setting aside one-tenth of one’s earnings to be used for God’s purposes.
In my own life, I have decided that I give for three reasons: because I can; because I want to see good accomplished; and because I should.
I give because I can. Most of us were raised in a competitive environment, constantly comparing ourselves with others. Whether it’s grades or clothes or athletic ability or income or wealth, we look at our neighbors and so often find ourselves wanting. This “scarcity thinking” blinds us to the abundance in our lives. As middle class Americans, we are wealthier than the vast majority of the world’s people. Most of us really have more than we absolutely need, thus we have the ability and privilege of being able to give.
I give because I can in a second sense. There are things I would like to do but cannot. I will never be physically able to pull dry-wall out of someone else’s flooded home. But I can financially support others who are able to do so. My dollars often go where I cannot.
Second, I give because I want to see good things accomplished and to be part of God’s good work in the world. There is so much good that can be accomplished when we share our resources: hungry people can be fed and refugees welcomed; the sick can be comforted and visitors welcomed; children can grow up in faith and pastors can be educated; worship can uplift our spirits and open our hearts; faith can be nurtured and we can become advocates for justice. When I make a gift to HPC, I know these things happen and much more, and I am deeply glad.
Finally, I give because I should. This is not a popular reason today, but it has deep roots in our Reformed tradition. The Westminster Larger Catechism is an important part of our theological legacy. It taught the faith to generations of Presbyterians. One section looks at the Ten Commandments, in each case asking not only what we should not do, but asking also what duties the commandment teaches. Regarding “thou shalt not steal,” there is a long list of such duties. One is this: “giving and lending freely, according to our abilities, and the necessities of others.” Giving is part of our discipleship. It’s how we live our faith. It is a sign of faithfulness.
For several years, the Session has set a goal of $800,000 in pledges from at least 300 individuals or households. We have not yet achieved either goal. If we do not make that goal this year, the work of this congregation in 2018 will be cut back. Please help us expand our ability to share hope from the heart of the Highlands.
Cynthia M. Campbell, Pastor