Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
We are living in turbulent times. Everything we have known about financial security appears to be slipping away. In our nation, the cost of living continues to rise, and the average wage continues to shrink. There is no end in sight for the threat to our financial stability and our quality of life.
Tabernacle is no different. Our families have less spending power, and our local congregation has less spending power. Currently, our general fund has no reserves. Our consistent response to crisis is to cut back on our financial support to the church. Over the past year, we have reduced salaries, cut staff positions and paid less on apportionments. Rather than making us strong financially, these cut-backs have reduced our ministry, discouraged giving, and placed God’s work at the bottom of our priorities.
The solution to our financial difficulties at Tabernacle does not come from cutting back on our support of the ministries at our church. Our financial stability rests on our confidence – our faith. Jesus demonstrated the way to deal with crises: (Jesus) he took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven, blessed them, and broke them and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. (Luke 9:16)
Look closely at the bread offered. One loaf has been divided; yet, much remains in each hand. In one hand is plenty for our own needs; in the other hand is enough to be shared.
That is a beautiful illustration of God’s relationship with us: God gives us an abundance and leaves it to us to recognize that we are both cared for and charged to pass along the blessings. We are blessed to be a blessing. We love God both by giving thanks and by blessing others.
Our instinct in a financial crisis is to hold on to our money. We focus on what we have lost, and what remains seems too little. On the night in which he was betrayed, Jesus teaches his disciples this crisis management model: Take what you have, give God thanks for it (bless it), break it in half, and share it.
Although this works for any number of crises, let’s try this approach to solving our financial crisis. First, each family should examine what we have – not what we wish for, not what we’ve lost – take what we actually have in hand. Next, thank God for these gifts, say a blessing just as we would for our food each meal. Next comes the hard part: Break it! If you cannot break off the biblical 10 per cent, break off some. Next consume the main part which your family needs, then share some. When we recognize our relationship to God through Jesus in this very practical way, we will see our priorities change. We will find our security in our relationship with God, flourish in the midst of financial uncertainty, and discover new ways to work with God in the world.
God richly blesses the people of Tabernacle UMC! My earnest prayer for the family that is Tabernacle is that your relationship with God will be strengthened as you give thanks to God and become a blessing.
Grace and Peace,
Barry and Becky Throckmorton