Heavenly Father, give us grateful hearts that inspired by your Holy Spirit we may return worthy praise by the offering of our lives and possessions in your service, through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.
Last week we started our Stewardship campaign and we spoke about the principles of Christian Stewardship and that financial giving is a joyful response to Gods generosity and not an obligation.
I spoke about how we as part of this Christian family are able to give our time talents and also our money to support this beautiful Church and its mission and ministry. When we give any of these we are actually connecting our giving with our Christian Faith and we are then giving back as a response to the giving of our generous god.
“All things come from you and of your own do we give you”
Every service we say this prayer after the collection is taken up to the alter for blessing, and this reminds us that all we have is sourced from Gods provision. We all say this prayer every week but I wonder how many of us actually think about what we are saying.
Giving for us as Christians is a spiritual matter and it is as central to faithful living as when we pray or read the bible or worship. When we are giving it is not just about giving money it is about giving our whole selves to God. This includes our time and the gifts which God has given to each and every one of us and as Christians, we are called by God to use these gifts and abilities in building Gods Kingdom.
The giving of time and talents is very very evident in this Church. It takes a huge amount of organisation to set up services, hand out books, every week there are beautiful flowers and our floral displays at Christmas Easter and Harvest are outstanding. The Church is always beautifully clean and the Hall is rented out for functions to boost funds. The grounds are managed, the grass is cut and this church is a huge part of this great community and it is all thanks to every one of you.
Then we are encouraged to give financially and this is where this subject gets a little more difficult. However, I think this is the 4th stewardship campaign that I have done and as each year passes I get a little more comfortable talking but if you could see my hands they are shaking. I don’t normally speak at this point, it’s normally after the service. But I am passionate about this Church and our family. So why I’ve got your attention on this theme, don’t forget that we have a working party in a few weeks to carry out the spring clean and some of the larger jobs that need a group effort. I know that it sounds time-consuming but time really is part of this months theme and believe it or not we have a good time. We laugh while we work and we’ll have lunch together. Please if you are free to come along and join in we would really appreciate it.
When we talk about giving financially I always think that there may be someone out there who isn’t fully aware of Stewardship or the financial plight of this church and maybe they want to give more or on a regular basis but are unsure how to do this. There are different ways to give. One way is to give in the collection bags which are handed round and then go onto the offertory plate. We also have our small blue envelopes. These work in a couple of ways. Each envelope has a number on it which is your personal number, there are no names on them or identifying features so the giving is anonymous to all apart from the person who collates the figures at the end of the year, which is me. You are then able to pledge a weekly amount and by doing this it allows the church to budget accordingly. Also if you are a UK taxpayer and you are willing to giftaid your giving, we are then able to claim back from the Inland revenue 25p of every pound you give us. You have to ensure that you pay that amount in tax for that financial year. This is hugely beneficial to us and all you have to do is complete a simple declaration to enable us to do this. Last year we were able to claim in excess of £2000. There are also the yellow envelopes in the pews for visitors and these include a gift aid declaration on them, very simple. Many of us also give by Standing order, a fixed amount on a monthly basis. The church is aware of what a proportion of their income will be and can budget. Personally, this works for us as we don’t have to worry on a Sunday morning as we are running through the doors with seconds to spare. We know we have already given and we don’t have to make sure we have cash. These standing orders can also be gift aided.
St Marys is, I feel, a very welcoming Church. We love to see new people and are so happy when they start to come regularly. We are always trying to plan an event and we encourage everyone to come. We are not clicky. We have jumble sales, coffee mornings and fayres. There are also groups for preparation for confirmation and we have a steady amount of baptisms, weddings and sadly funerals. It has been so great to see the church full over the last few weeks. We have our ever faithful choir and a wonderful organist with a backup team and now a great band of ministers. I love to look at the altar and choir stalls and see the growth of this church.
We have to ensure that this continues and that the doors of this historical beautiful church remain open. It has stood here for nearly 1000 years lets make sure its here for a few more. We are all aware of the threats of the runway but this doesn’t mean we can give up. We need to have faith.
Thank you to everyone for their involvement and commitment to the life of this parish church. Thank you for all the time energy and skills you give and thank you for your amazing financial support without such generosity we could not survive yet alone develop and grow.
Amatu asked us last week in his sermon how do you feel when you know you are coming to Church. This really made me think. I get a calmness and excited at the same time. I know I’m going to my Home where I’m comfortable safe and secure., with my extended family. It’s a place where we can face our problems and come to terms with worries that we sometimes can’t control. This is MY Church this is YOUR church we are all sitting here today for the same reasons, to worship and be part of it. Our role is to look after it.
Can I just leave you with this
When we have bills at home that we struggle with we worry about how to deal with them Chris our wonderful treasurer has these same worries here in Church. We have had many emergency meetings over money and we always pray and stand and say don’t worry have faith something will turn up and you know what it always does.
Finally, a thought
If we received a bill from the gas or electricity board and Chris were to call them and say really sorry we actually haven’t got the money to pay the bill, but they can be sure of the love and prayers of our whole congregation well we would be sitting in the cold and dark next week.
Thanks for listening