When I think about giving generously to this church, I think of two distinct aspects of giving which together complete my thoughts and feelings on my financial role at CVUUF. First, I am aware of my responsibility to give, and second, the actual act of giving is important to me. So, I will briefly share my thoughts on both.
First, let’s talk responsibility. I think I dramatically increased my giving several years ago when it occurred to me that not only must “the people” and “the bills” get paid, but that I was actually responsible for making that happen. I am someone that throughout my life I have been consistently blessed to always feel that I have family looking out for me, caring for me, and taking care of me. Thus, although I played adult in my work life, I was able to always assume there were other responsible adults around taking care of things like maintaining the church. It wasn’t until recently that it occurred to me that here at CVUUF, I am one of the adults responsible for the well-being of this larger church family. For the first several years I was a member, I always just sort of assumed there were others that were making things happen here financially, and I was just adding a little icing on the cake with my contribution. In reality, I was still acting the child in church. But in time, I came to realize I’m not the kid here. It was time for me to step up and act the adult. It was time for me to help bake the cake and not just frost it. I did this by shifting my contribution to be more in line with my maximum ability to give, rather than more of a token gift.
I was able to clearly explain the purpose of my increased giving to my non-member husband when I explained to him that unlike the Catholic Church of his background, there is no centralized group to cover our church’s expenses at CVUUF. I clarified to him that the responsibility to support and maintain all aspects of the church falls entirely on the members of the church. I explained there were no rules for giving, no humiliation or pressure, and all were welcome regardless of payment. For these very reasons, I explained, I feel even more called to make sure I am doing my part.
Now, the second meaningful part of giving, to me, is the actual physical act of giving. I know we have made a strong push for electronic giving, which is wonderful, and I have set up with my bank to make regular contributions. However, the act of taking money out of my wallet and placing it in the plate each week is a ritual I find fulfilling. Separate from my pledge giving, which I contribute regularly and monthly, the weekly giving is humbling for me. As I open my wallet and select an amount of cash to put in the plate, I do so knowing that my gift will have no perk for me–no one will know what I gave, and I will not receive any tax right off or financial benefit. It is truly a ritualistic act, in which I choose to engage, in order to remind myself of why I really give. I hope I give for altruistic reasons. I hope I give because I believe in our mission, because I believe in our spirituality, and because I believe in each of you. We all receive much by sustaining such an amazing congregation, but in our hearts, we give not to receive. We give, and give generously, because it is the right thing to do.