But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
From the Gospel reading on the Second Sunday of Luke. Find the entire reading from Luke 6:31-36 at the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.
BRETHREN, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.
St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians 9:6-11, the Epistle Reading on the 2nd Sunday of Luke.
For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life?
The Gospel of Mark 8:36-37
From the Gospel reading on the Sunday after the feast of the Holy Cross.
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America recently announced the release a new study, “Exploring Orthodox Generosity: Giving in US Orthodox Parishes.” The 138-page report is accompanied by a brief summary that shares the highlights of the study. The study was prepared by the Assembly’s research coordinator, Alexei Krindatch (find the entire announcement on the Assembly’s website).
Highlights from the study include:
- In 2014, a typical (median) Orthodox household gave $2000 to its local parish community in regular giving. That is, half of all Orthodox households gave more than $2000 per year and half of them gave less than that to their parishes.
- The degree of involvement with a parish is a very strong predictor of how much people give to their churches.
- Personal beliefs and personal theology have a very strong impact on how much a Church member gives to his/her parish. Church members who state that “using the money and material possessions in ways that please God” is part of their spiritual life give on average 2.5 times more to their parish communities than persons who hold the view that “money and material possessions have nothing to do with spiritual and religious issues;”
- Parishes that encourage members to be more generous because it will enhance church’s mission and create more opportunities for spiritual growth receive MUCH HIGHER contributions from parishioners than the parishes asking members to give because various needs of a parish community should be addressed.
- [T]he top three methods that an Orthodox parish can employ in order to inspire parishioners to give more are: a) greater social outreach into local community, b) stronger emphasis on mission and evangelism programs, and c) creating joint programs and ministries with other nearby Orthodox parishes.
The Stewardship Resources produced by Stewardship Ministries of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese are now online! The 2016 theme is taken from Psalm 34, used in the final hymn of the Service of Artoclasia, blessing of the five loaves:
Rich men have turned poor and gone hungry; but they that seek the Lord shall not be deprived of any good thing.
The Blessing of Five Loaves of Bread is a brief service of thanksgiving through which we express our gratitude for all the blessings of life. Oil, wine, wheat, and the loaves of bread which are used in the service, are viewed as the most basic elements necessary for life. The Blessing reminds us of the miracle of the multiplication of the bread and fish by which Christ fed the multitude. This Blessing is usually offered during Vespers or after the Divine Liturgy on Feast days and other special occasions. After the Service, the bread is cut and distributed to the congregation (from Introduction: What is the Greek Orthodox Church? at goarch.org).
The sun gives forth light; it cannot help doing so. Animals breathe in and out; they cannot help doing so. Fish swim in rivers and the seas; they cannot help doing so. What, then, are the things which a Christian cannot help doing?… [A] Christian cannot help being generous. To be a Christian is to acknowledge that everything belongs to God and the human beings are merely stewards of what they possess; so they naturally want to share their possessions with those in need. +St. John Chrysostom
Cheerfulness consists in not regarding these things as our own, but as entrusted to us by God for the benefit of our fellow-servants. It consists in scattering them abroad generously with joy and magnanimity, not reluctantly or under compulsion (II Cor.9:7). Further, we ought cheerfully to empty ourselves of that which we stored up in the hope of the true promise God has made to us of giving us a hundredfold reward for this. +St. Symeon the New Theologian
A person should have a more attentive attitude toward his brother’s flesh than his own. Christian love teaches us to give our brother not only material but spiritual gifts. We must give him our last shirt and our last crust of bread. Here personal charity is as necessary and justified as the broadest social work. +Mother Maria Skobtsova
From the Asceticism of the Open Door on In Communion. Learn more about how Mother Maria continues to inspire in our blog post The Legacy of Orthodox Action Continues.
As a newlywed, becoming a steward of an Orthodox church for the first time in my adult life, I first asked the question: “How much should we give?” When I put the question to the church office administrator, she knew from experience that what I really meant was, “What do most people give?” Giving at my new parish was on a stewardship model, so there was no minimum or membership fee. I wanted to know what the right amount was for the privilege of attending services and having the priest available for our needs, something like a membership fee to other organizations in our life. But, to be honest, I also didn’t want to give “too much.” Read More →
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear? For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.
From the Gospel reading on the 3rd Sunday of Matthew.