Friends in Christ,
As we round the corner into the fall season of this mad year, I have found myself repeating a new phrase, The show must go on!
A favorite recent example at St. Michael’s by-the-Sea of this creative persistence (and there are many) is the Foreign and Domestic Mission’s inspiration to stage this year’s wine-tasting fundraiser online! We may not have been able to gather in the parish hall, but we still:
- Raised money for the Veteran’s Association of North County.
- Received illuminating wine wisdom from St. Michael’s resident sommelier, David Clark
- And by golly, in spite of restrictions on sharing the chalice in Eucharistic worship, we still drank wine . . . “together”!
While it could be tempting to throw in the towel on such pedestrian practices as the annual pledge drive, to this I say, The show must go on! God forbid that the madness of the world drowns out or further disrupts our Christian spiritual disciplines. It is supposed to be the other way around!
Tithing is not merely a spiritual discipline; it is inextricably linked to our worship of Almighty God. In Genesis 14, Melchizedek, the “King of Salem and priest of God Most High” blesses Abraham and offers him bread and wine. Abraham in turn gives Melchizedek “a tenth of all” — a tithe. Melchizedek, a mysterious foreshadowing of Christ our Great High Priest and King (Hebrews 7), blesses Abraham and celebrates a type of ancient Eucharistic feast. Abraham responds in thanksgiving by offering his tithes to this great priest and king.
Our tithes are our response to God. His blessing and offering of Himself for our salvation is the first action — our offerings of ourselves, our souls and bodies, is a re-action. It is as King David says when he prays to God, “For all things are Yours, and of Your own we give to You” (I Chronicles 29.14). We worship God, we give thanks, we praise Him for His glory through our tithes.
Many people are struggling to make ends meet. This year is filled with tumult and uncertainty.
What we tithe, and how much we tithe, these are between us and God. That we tithe, that we offer to God some measure of the first fruits (not the dregs) of our labor — is an essential part of our spiritual worship.
A “pledge” is an acknowledgment of the first fruits and tithes we commit to God. On a very practical level, our pledges empower the Vestry to prayerfully plan for the year ahead. Approximately 80% of St. Michael’s annual operating revenue is derived from our tithes and offerings. In 2020 we received 93 pledge commitments from 198 giving units, or 47%. This year the Vestry goal is to receive 80%, or 158 pledges. The more pledges we receive, the less guess work is left to the Vestry while planning for 2021.
Please join me and your Vestry in prayerfully discerning our 2021 tithe. Submit a pledge on or by The Feast of Christ the King, Sunday, November 22nd. We will bless our 2021 pledges on the First Sunday of Advent, November 29th.
To God be the glory!