Deacon Les Ruhrmund
Since the launch of the Covenant of 1 in April, we have covered the concept of Time (the spiritual component focused on the time we invest in our relationship with God) and Talent (the service component, focused on using our gifts and talents in the service of the parish and the outreach projects in which the parish is involved).
This weekend we launch the third component which is Treasure, the financial contribution we make to support the parish and the ministries of the parish.
Our lives, our families, our health, our education, our unique talents and skills, our job and our income are all blessings from God, entrusted into our care for the good of all.
We are accountable to God for how we use our treasure.
We tend to keep our financial matters separate from our faith, rather than looking at our treasure, our money, as a gift to be used within the wrapping that is our faith.
Jesus says in Luke’s Gospel (12:33-34,48), “Where your treasure is, there also your heart will be …….Much is asked of the person who is entrusted with much, and even more is expected of the person who has been entrusted with more.”
We should all want to give.
Motivated by love – our love for God, love for each other and love of the Church and our parish – we should want to give as generously as we are able. There is no other source of funding for the parish. If we aren’t giving then we are just taking and surely that’s not right; that contradicts the very premise of our faith. So, whether we are children, students, working or retired, we should all want to contribute to the upkeep and development of our parish.
Here are 4 simple principles about Christian giving:
1. We give as a response to what God has given to us. In creation, through Jesus, and through the Holy Spirit, God has given us everything that we have, and all that we are. Our giving is a response to this.
2. We give in grace, and not through law. The Old Testament tithe was required by law. Many Evangelical churches use the OT laws to justify the call on their members to tithe 10% of their gross income to the church. The New Testament commends giving generously of our treasure, in grace; each to our own capability. In scripture we have the example of the woman donating all she had and Zacchaeus, the tax collector, giving away 50% of his treasure. For some a generous amount will not represent any real sacrifice; while for others a much lesser amount represents a tremendous sacrifice.
3. Our giving to the parish is a moral obligation well founded in Scripture and in the life of the early Church and is an essential part of the management of all our treasure. Apply the same measures of generosity and integrity in giving to the parish as we do in other areas of our lives.
4. It feels good to give generously – it really does. We best understand that heart-warming joy of giving generously when we have experienced it.
We have a wonderful parish of which we can and should be very proud; proud because we are able to offer so many ministries and opportunities to enrich our faith and our experience of God. Our relationship with God is realized in the mystical Body of Christ; the faith community of the parish and the Church. The parish is only able to fulfil its mission through the generosity of the parishioners. The parishioners are the only source of income. Without our willingness to give of our treasure, the parish as we know it would not and could not exist.
This is our pastoral home.
This is where we encounter Christ personally in the Mass and where we come for support, comfort and spiritual nourishment to sustain us through life’s hard journey.
This is where we experience the Body of Christ as a living presence through each other and through the discipleship of service within and outside of the parish.
This is where we baptise our babies and bring them into our Christian family.
This is where we teach our children, teens and young adults about the love of God; teach them that they are each God’s beloved and bring them into communion with our faith and their faith family through the sacraments.
This is where we declare our love and commitment to love in marriage and where we bid farewell to the bodies of our loved ones when their life journey is over; and where we bury their ashes and honour their memory on the wall of remembrance.
We have a precious and splendid legacy to pass on to our children and to their children’s children.
But the parish is struggling financially.
In the financial year ending June 2018, our expenses will have exceeded our income by about R325,000. If our contributions stay the same in the year ahead, with the effect of inflation on our expenses, the deficit is likely to be close to R500,000 by June next year. This is obviously not sustainable and unless contributions increase, we will be forced to make some drastic cuts in our expenses. Sadly, this is likely to most affect some of our ministries.
The finance committee are meticulously scrutinising the budgeted expenses for the year ahead and in consultation with the Parish Pastoral Council, reducing costs where ever possible. They will also be keeping us updated monthly in the weekend bulletin, providing data of our income and expenses.
In the letter prepared by James Collett, the chairman of the finance committee, which is in the planned giving envelopes in the foyer, he uses an example of how an extra R100 can make a significant difference to balance the books but this is only by way of illustration.
In keeping with the concept of the Covenant of 1, we are asked to consider making a minimum contribution to our parish of one hour’s income per week; roughly one fortieth of our monthly income.
Putting this into numbers:
A family or individual with an income of R5,000/month, would commit to giving R125/month.
R10,000/month, contribute R250/month;
On an income of R20,000/month, the minimum contribution should be R500/month
If that amount isn’t possible at this time, then commit to working towards reaching that level of generosity over the next few years.
If you don’t earn yet, give a percentage of your pocket money (think in terms of the value of one movie, one beer, one pizza).
Treasure: Am I giving fairly of my treasure to my pastoral home?
We should pray about it and ask the Holy Spirit to guide our hearts in deciding what to give. The work of the parish is God’s work and the Holy spirit will prompt our hearts; let’s pray also that we have the courage in faith to respond.