Dear Friends and Parishioners:
Our Gospel is filled with reversals of ordinary thinking. Jesus says things like, the first shall be last and the last shall be first; the greatest of all is the servant of all; those who seek to save their lives will lose them and those who lose their lives for my sake will gain their lives, and so on and so forth!
Now we come to the pièce de résistance (at least for this epistle), It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). This is something that we don’t need a preacher to explain to us!
We see the truth of this each week at our community meal, where parishioners and visitors come to feed the hungry and homeless week in and week out. People could be at parks, movies, museums or any number of attractions in our fair city, but they choose to give to these needy people in order to experience the ineffable joys that Jesus describes.
This season of Thanksgiving is also traditionally the church’s stewardship season. For many, that feels like their house of worship is dunning them for scarce resources in order to keep the doors open.
Perhaps this is a matter of one’s perspective, the difference being how much one feels their faith has an existential impact on their lives. It is the biblical mandate that we return thanks to the Lord with an offering from our lives. But if the gift is given out of obligation only, it has a certain onerous quality attached to it.
If one is able to obtain the same quiet sense of peace and fulfillment that comes from self-giving, then your pledge to the church is quite another thing altogether. We come to realize that as we give to the church, we join the ancient Magi as they bring gifts to Jesus, and we come to know an inner sense of participating in a meaningful way in a movement that preaches peace, justice, compassion and healing.
We find the paradox redounds to our spiritual health as we come to know that it is more blessed to give than to receive, because the open secret is that in the giving of our material resources we receive eternal and internal treasure where moth and rust cannot corrupt or destroy this joy!