For the past few months, Arianne and I have been teaching our daughter, Eden, about money. What it does and doesn’t do. That it’s all a gift from God. That we can easily get greedy for it. That some people have too little and some have too much. And that God calls us to give of it generously to our neighbor and to the work of building God’s kingdom.
We haven’t yet implemented an allowance for her, but that’s the next step. She can earn money with various chores around the house or save it when she receives birthday money. The first thing she saved up for was a Frozen II water bottle!
Last week, we talked about the Mission Month we’re engaged in at church during the month of October. Our family decided to participate by purchasing diapers for our neighbors at C-24/7 down in Rogers Park. Many of them have lost jobs and hours due to the pandemic and can’t work from home. They need diapers just like Noah does, so this is a small way we can love them.
I tell you this story because talking with Eden lately about money has brought up for me just how embedded my own “money story” is. It largely comes from our family of origin, but then is shaped as we grow up by our own decisions, our circles of friends, our faith community, etc.
We all have a “money story,” whether we recognize it or not. Perhaps we are living from a story of fear or shame. Or a story that the church’s best days are behind it. Or a story that our actions won’t make a difference. Or a story that we don’t have enough. Where might God be speaking a new narrative into the limited one we have told ourselves?
Our stewardship theme for 2021 is “Our Money Story.” This theme invites us to discover and tell our money stories in light of God’s money story of liberation and justice. This four-week sermon series encourages us to transform our stewardship practices into more full expressions of who we are and what we believe. Money and possessions are one of the most common topics in scripture, and Jesus talked about money more than faith and prayer. Our money story, therefore, is a spiritual story. Thinking about God’s money story should be liberating, inviting, and transformative.
As the pandemic wears on and we enter the final stretch of a polarizing election year, our call to “Experience God. Grow Disciples. Transform Lives.” at fpcw is as relevant as ever. God is still calling us to hold fast to what is good and to love our neighbors in Christ’s name.
To that end, I’m excited for all that 2021 will hold at our church. There are many unknowns, but your Session, staff and committees are eager to lean into the days ahead. It’s a time to prioritize what’s most important and to listen for the whispers of the Spirit. What experiments can we try? Who among us needs our love and prayers? What are the greatest needs of our neighbors and how can we meet them? What is God up to already in the neighborhood and how can we join in?
The Giving Team and I have been meeting in recent weeks to pray about and plan for stewardship this fall. While the pandemic has caused economic hardship for so many families, we’re grateful that many of us are holding up ok. Our financial position, as of the end of September, is healthy and we anticipate ending 2020 well-positioned for our life and ministry.
Each year our church changes – beloved church members pass away, babies are born, some of us move away, kids go off to college, and new families join us. Taking all of that into account and pondering God’s call on our church in 2021, we invite you to consider a 4% increase in your financial commitment over 2020.
This year, Commitment Sunday will be held on October 25. Weather permitting, we will still be holding our outdoor service in the fellowship garden that day, but many of us will be worshipping virtually. As a result, the way we celebrate our financial commitments and thank God for them will be different. We encourage you to either mail your pledge card to the church office or to pledge online through our church website. We’ve enclosed a pledge card with this letter for your prayerful consideration.
Here’s our challenge and invitation to you. Consider your own “money story.” Who taught you about money? What it is? How should we spend it? What’s important? And how it relates to our faith? Then, take a careful look at your finances. Figure out what percentage of your income you’re giving to fpcw and to other organizations that bless the world. And then ask God for wisdom as you strive to reflect your gratitude back to God for all that God has entrusted to you.
We’re not asking you to do what you cannot, only what you can. When we all respond to God in gratitude for all God has given us, it will always be enough.
Thank you in advance for your commitment and generosity!
Rev. Jeff Lehn
We encourage you to either mail your pledge card to the church office (you should have received it earlier this week) or to pledge online through our church website please click here to access the link.
P.S. On your pledge card, you’ll notice a box you can check to cover “Per Capita,” a way that Presbyterians mutually share the costs of coming together to discern the Spirit’s leading for the future. Each congregation pays an annual amount of money per church member (in 2020, the amount is $36.00) to their Presbytery. This year, we are inviting all church members to make a designated gift to cover their individual share. Thank you for your consideration.
If you need a pledge card please contact the church office and one will be sent to you.