SOME THOUGHTS ON GIVING from Bishop David
Over Easter we have been celebrating the most incredible generosity we could ever begin to imagine, when Jesus gave his life for us upon the cross. And then the wonderful truth of God the Father demonstrated his power through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Perhaps for many of us we are more grateful this Easter than ever before for the incredible gift of Jesus, and his promise of forgiveness and life everlasting.
Lots of people are worried about the future and what things will look like over the next weeks and months. Whether we will have jobs to go back to, whether our savings will be worth anything at all, whether we will be plunged into another severe recession.
And yet in the middle of our worries we can also have confidence – confidence that Jesus is risen and ascended and sitting at the right hand of the Father. And that confidence should help us to face the future and also respond with generosity in the present days.
At a time when our natural instinct is to cling on to what we have the Bible tells us as Christians to do quite the opposite. There’s no getting around the fact that God calls his church to be generous especially in times of trial. As Christians we are called to tithe (Leviticus 27:30), to give our first fruits to the Lord (Nehemiah 10:35) and to consider the poor (Luke 12:33). In a culture that calls us to shrink back and protect what we have, the Bible calls us to be bold and generous.
If you possibly can, I want to ask you to continue to give your usual tithes and offerings to your parish. The expenses of running a parish will not have decreased – and indeed the opportunities for ministry and outreach are actually increasing during these days. I want to encourage us all to continue to view our giving to God as part of our normal worship. We may not all be gathering together on Sunday and able to put something onto the plate as it is passed among us, but I hope that parishes who are streaming services will start to include a moment in those services when we pause and consider our giving as part of our worship. Maybe even at that moment facilitate people giving online or through PayPal.
Many parishioners are finding new ways of paying into the parish funds – setting up new monthly standing orders. Others are making a point of setting aside the cash for their Freewill Offering weekly envelopes to have ready to bring to church as soon as we are able to gather together again. Whatever suits you, thank you for making sure that you are continuing to give. The biblical principle is that we give back to God out of what he has already given to us, and he has certainly blessed us all so very much. If you haven’t yet thought about how you will give to your parish and to God’s work in these different days, please take some time to decide how you want to give generously towards ministry and mission.
And for all of us, if you are able please also consider continuing to support other Christian charities who do such amazing work both here in Northern Ireland and all around the world. Parishes who run food banks and other projects to help people in poverty are reporting a huge increase in demand and also opportunities to demonstrate Jesus’ love through their actions to those who do not yet know him. Recent estimates from charities across the UK indicate that they fear a fall in donations of several billion pounds this year, so by continuing, or perhaps starting, to support a charity, your generosity really will make a huge difference.
With great uncertainty and anxiety in our nation, people are looking to the church. Now is the time for the church to reach out to the least and the lost within our communities. In times of crisis we need radical love; that takes courage, faith and Finances. Let’s look to be generous with everything that God has given us, including our money.
These are days of huge challenge and great opportunity. If you can, please be generous in your giving to God’s work through our parishes and mission agencies and other charities. We give because of all that God has given us.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
2 Corinthians 9:7-8
St Molua’s Church
Parish of Stormont
645 Upper Newtownards Road
Belfast BT4 3LR
Tel: 028 9041 9171
Parish Office open: Wednesday from 10.00am to 12 noon
Church open: Wednesday from 10.00am to 12 noon and for services.
Registered with The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland NIC102374