Deuteronomy 26:1-3

When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, “Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” Deuteronomy 26:1-3

Our little congregation on the corner of Bellaire Blvd. and Avenue B is in the middle of raising money. We want to pay off our mortgage. This is debt that the congregation accumulated from doing things that congregations sometimes need to do. We rebuilt our school after Hurricane Ike destroyed it. We made some changes in our sanctuary to do things like offer alternative music, live stream our worship services to anyone who wants to watch from wherever they are. We replaced air conditioning. Resurfaced our parking lot. The normal stuff that congregations do that cost a lot of money.

We also want to participate in the capital campaign with our partners in ministry, the Christian Community Service Center (CCSC). CCSC is a coalition of 40+ congregations that have banded together to build an organization that helps feed and clothe people who have more month than money. They offer assistance with rent and utilities. They help people find jobs. They train people to run their own small businesses. They provide school supplies and Christmas presents. And they too are digging out of losing their central building to yet another hurricane.

And finally, we know that there will be other costs to come in taking care of our physical buildings so we want to get ahead of the game by establishing a fund that we can draw from rather than borrowing money in the future.

We’re just doing what congregations do. And all of these things require money beyond the costs of our day to day work. Where will that money come from? The writer of Deuteronomy would have us be crystal clear on that point – all that we have, all that we are, and all that we need, comes from God. Everything we have is a gift from God. As the people of God, we recognize that by giving back a portion of what we have received. Out of gratitude, not obligation. Out of recognizing what God has already done for us, not paying God off for future services.

Such recognition then becomes how we look at life. When a pipe breaks and floods a classroom, we can pray to God for help. And God shows up in the person of a plumber. That the plumber does her work with excellence is a reflection of her character. That she charges us for her services is a necessity for her to continue providing such services to others. She may or may not see the holiness in her work. But we do. Because we are the people of God and this is how we look at things.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, we give to you and your work in the world what you have first given us. Thank you for all that we have and all that we are. And thank you for the good news that you will never quit helping us become all that we can be. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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