|Perhaps you recall the story in Matthew 25 about a man who gave his three servants different amounts of money and told them to manage the funds while he was away. Two of the servants doubled the amounts entrusted to them, but the third servant was fearful of losing the funds given to him, and rather than risk his master’s wrath, he dug a hole and buried the money. |
A student of mine preached a fine sermon based on that story and said that the third servant understood the risk involved in the task, but failed to recognize the gift he had been given. Burying money in the dirt is a good plan if one is motivated by fear, but if one sees the money and the trust of the master as a gift then one is free to be extravagantly creative. (In case you’re interested, I gave my student an A.)
I’ve been thinking about that third servant a lot these days. As I write these words we are knee-deep in budget planning and discussions in preparation for the annual meeting. Pledges have slightly exceeded last year’s amount and there are more still coming in. However, the investments we rely on, as you might expect, are way down this year with forecasts looking pretty grim.
So I’m wondering if we will choose the way of the third servant. The risks are obvious and logic says to bury our resources in the ground; i.e., to “slash and burn” programs, positions, and anything else we
|can cut. But there is a gift here if we have eyes to see it. Everything we have individually, and everything we have as a church, has been entrusted to us by a loving, gracious God. We now have the opportunity, and the freedom, to be extravagantly creative. |
That will mean asking questions and learning new skills. As a church we will need to ask which expenditures are relics from the past and which ones move us toward the goals we feel called to: creating a hunger for worship, ministering to needs in the church and community, and challenging people to use their gifts in discipleship. Those are place to be extravagantly creative.
As individuals and families we will need to ask whether our giving matches the gratitude we feel for God’s grace, and whether our financial priorities are in line with being disciples of Jesus. For some that will mean an increase in giving. For all it will mean moving away from the economics of fear to the economics of grace.
My student ended with a story about preaching in a church where they took up three offerings that day. The first time he put in a ten-dollar bill, the second time he put in a five. When the third offering came around he realized he only had a twenty-dollar bill left in his wallet. The words he used to conclude his sermon are the words for all of us here at FCC:
“I realized I had a choice to make. And so do you.”