[11/6/11 — it followed the baptism of a year-old girl]
Meg (Margaret Roberts) has just joined God’s mission to make the world more loving and more just. This is a fresh way to understand baptism and God’s mission. Meg’s part in God’s mission is to respond to her parents’ love — and her presence surely calls them to treat her justly — to meet her needs as best they can.
Amos (Amos 5:18-24 the first reading) joined God’s mission in about 760 B.C. He called the rich to account for their exploitation of the poor. He understands God to be saying: “I hate your solemn assemblies. . . let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever—flowing stream.”
We need an Amos today. Too few have too much and too many have too little. Greed seems to be the order of the day. A TV ad gives it away: “It’s my money and I want it now!”
No, it’s not your money. We all helped you to get it. It’s really God’s money and you are a trustee of it. A trustee uses the money as the giver wants it used.
We are all trustees. What will help us to combat greed?
One way is to learn to give your money away. Take 10% as a guide. Today we say give 5% to the church and 5% to charity. Before or after taxes is up to you.
“Wow!” we say, “How does anyone do that?”
Here’s the way. Compute what per cent of your income you now give away. For many of us it is 1 to 2%. How do you learn to give more?
I learned by being called to serve a congregation that had to build a new church. They asked all to give 10%. I was their leader so I started at 10%. I had been giving $2 per week.
There’s a better way to learn. I need to give. The giver needs to give. It’s the best way to conquer the greed that tempts us all. It’s part of our mission. It’s God’s money. Live on 90% of your income. Give the other 10% away.
I’ve learned my need to give. I’ve learned — I’m still learning — about how to control my greed. I give to the church because the church is my heartland. It’s where I am reminded every Sunday to be loving and just. And where I get the power to live that way.
That’s why to give. I need to give. And I need the church to keep me on track.
So here’s how to grow in giving. Figure out what you actually give to the church and to charities. Count it all. Then compute what per cent of your income you are now giving.
Then take a step up — a step you can make. If you give 1%, step up to 1 1/2 %. If you give 2%, step up to 2 1/2%. And keep growing each year.
Keep growing in giving to make the world a more loving and just place.
Join God’s mission. See that your money joins God’s mission.
We are all Megs — needing to learn to give to grow in God’s mission.