And even if a person should possess the complete treasures of the King, he should hide them and say continually: “The treasure is not mine, but another has given it to me for a charge. For I am a beggar and when it pleases Him, He can claim it from me.” +St. Macarios
Brethren, please let us be afraid of these truly dreadful evils. Let is organize our lives as is pleasing to God. Let us forgive that we may be forgiven, let us be merciful to those in need that we may receive mercy many times more abundantly, He who impoverished Himself to the uttermost for our sakes, Himself receives our alms, and in His munificence He will multiply the reward. We must either be poor as He was, and so live with Him, or share what we have with those who are poor for His sake, and so be saved through them. Let us acquire merciful hearts and give positive proof of brotherly love and devotion towards the Father and Master of all. You will never find a more acceptable time to do this than the days of the fast. If you join almsgiving to fasting you will blot out every sin, venerate the saving passion with boldness, join in the rejoicing at Christ’s resurrection and gain eternal redemption.” (St. Gregory Palamas, On the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus)
To read the Gospel reading for the 5th Sunday of Luke (16:19-31) visit the Online Chapel at goarch.org.
One year my family was given a special collection box to take home, fill with donations, and return to our church a few months later for a worthy Orthodox Christian cause. I loved the idea! My mind immediately focused on all the spare change we had accumulated—in the cup holder of the car, the bedside table, the couch cushions. If I would place this change in the box, I would not only be giving to a worthy cause, but I would be getting rid of the nuisance of having to figure out what to do with this change. I could solve two problems at once!
Little did I know, this box was about to transform the way I think about giving. Along with the box, we were given one last instruction, to please approach our collection as giving something up for Christ. We were challenged to consider giving in a spirit of sacrifice, rather than simply giving our leftovers. I realized then and there that I could–and should–give much more that I had initially thought to give. In fact, I realized this was true not just for the special collection box, but in all aspects of my giving to Christ and the Church.
After that day, we tried to treat the collection box almost like lighting a candle in church. Rather than only putting in spare change, we consciously tried to put in bills on a regular basis and say a prayer as we did so. The little lesson of the collection box stays with me to this day and stops me as I reach into my pocket to give: am I willing to sacrifice or just offer what I don’t need, my leftovers?
We are grateful to our readers who have offered to share their giving story with us, so that their testimony may inspire others. Read more on our Testimonials tab. We invite you to share your story, as well! Email us at email@example.com or visit Share Your Story.
And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. And as for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience.
The Gospel of Luke 8:14-15
From the Gospel reading on the Sunday of the 7th Ecumenical Council. Visit the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese for the entire reading for the day.
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.
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.
A case study of a parish giving program
Fr. P. has done a lot of thinking, reading, and praying on the subject of stewardship. At the small, urban parish to which he had been recently assigned, finances were said to be a constant challenge. The giving paradigm long in place was membership dues with several fundraisers throughout the year to fill in the budget gaps. The overwhelming perception at the parish was that there was never enough money, and no more could be raised in the small community. Read More →
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 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).