Inspiration

From the Matins of Holy Tuesday:

Behold O my soul! The Master entrusts to you a talent. Receive the gift with fear; lend to Him who gave it; distribute to the poor, and gain the Lord as a Friend; that you may stand on His right, when He comes in glory, and hear His blessed voice: “Enter, O servant, into the joy of Your Lord!” In Your great Mercy, O Savior, deem me, who has strayed, worthy of this joy.

Testimonial: Come, Follow Me

Calling of Philip & Nathaniel-med

As a priest, over the years I’ve spoken to my parishioners countless times about stewardship. In particular, I often speak about percentage giving. At a clergy retreat I attended a few years ago, a fellow priest spoke to us about stewardship, and during his talk he mentioned that he himself tithes. That got me thinking. In my home, I want to raise my children to be Christians. To that end, I intentionally try to model what that looks like on a daily basis. I want my children to see me praying, fasting, giving alms, speaking with kindness, showing love, etc. After hearing my brother priest speak about tithing, I was convicted to do the same kind of intentional modeling for my church family. If I hope to nurture the practice of sacrificial giving, I must lead the way by example. It was a leap of faith in our family to begin to tithe. But I believe it is the only way I can expect the same from my parishioners. Now when I talk about stewardship, I let my parish know that my own family tithes and invite them to join me.

True Generosity

JOHNCHRYThe amount we give is not judged by the largeness of the gifts but the largeness of our hearts. The poor woman who shares her meager pot of stew with another poor woman is far more to be praised than the rich man who throws a few gold coins into a collection at church.  But although most Christians acknowledge the truth of this, their words and actions convey a different message.  When a rich man makes a large gift to the church, he is heartily thanked; and although he will not feel the lack of that money himself, he is praised for his generosity.  When a poor man makes a small gift, nothing is said, even though that gift may cause him to go hungry, no one praises him or thanks him.  It would be better to praise no one than to confine our praise to the rich.  Better still, we should take trouble to observe every true act of generosity, whether by the rich or the poor, and then offer our praise.  Indeed let us be as generous with our praise as people are generous with their money.

St. John Chrysostom from On Living Simply

Living Generously

Liberality is living generously; it serves as a weapon against greed. Give freely to others when it is within your power to do so, without any expectation of getting something in return. This includes giving to the homeless, neighbors, and those in our own families. We can’t simply expect this from our children. We model it when they watch us joyfully give to others and when they are recipients of our generosity. And we can help them live generously by providing opportunities for them to give and serve.

From The Ascetic Lives of Mothers, by Annalisa Boyd, Ancient Faith Publishing.

Testimonial: How Much Should We Give?

widowsmite

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 →

Testimonial: A Change of Heart

Many years ago, I dug into the concept of tithing to prove a Protestant friend wrong. She tithed, as most in her church seemed to do. Arguing that Old Testament rules didn’t apply to modern-day Christians, I researched tithing from an Orthodox Christian perspective to bolster my side of our pending debate.

A little-known passage in Genesis 14 was one of the things I came upon. In short, the story goes that after Abram returns victorious from battle, the king and priest Melchizedek brings out bread and wine and blesses Abram. After receiving the blessing, the passage ends with these words: “And Abram gave him one-tenth of everything” (Genesis 14:20). Read More →

Testimonial: A Father’s Day Gift

When I was a young girl, my father would give me money to buy him a Christmas or birthday gift. This is how it is with our Heavenly Father, too. Stewardship is not simply something we give to God. Rather, it is His own gift given back to Him. In the Divine Liturgy the priest says, “We offer these gifts to You from Your own gifts.” This is what stewardship emulates. When we begin to make our Lord a participating member of our lives each day, we are humbled to learn how much more we have to give back.

Read more testimonials here. Share your story here.

Which Sea of Palestine are You?

sea-of-galilee

There are two seas in Palestine. One is fresh, and fish are in it. Splashes of green adorn its banks. Trees spread their branches over it and stretch out their thirsty roots to sip of its healing waters. Along its shores the children play, as children played when He was there. He loved it. He could look across its silver surface when He spoke His parables. And on a rolling plain not far away He fed five thousand people.

The River Jordan makes this sea with sparkling water from the hills. So it laughs in the sunshine. And men build their houses near to it, and birds their nests; and every kind of life is happier because it is there. Read More →

Testimonial: St. Spyridon and the Promise

St. Spyridon might not be the patron saint of tithing, but for one family, his intercession led them to tithe

Spyridon

Icon of St. Spyridon courtesy of Holy Icons.

There was an event, a moment, when we began to tithe, and it took me entirely by surprise.

My jaw literally dropped when my husband told me we were going to begin tithing, giving 10% of our income to our church.  How much we give has been a difficult and ongoing discussion since even before we were married.  I come from a family of limited means that tithed without excuses, and I expected the same from my own newly-forming family.  On the other hand, my husband understood tithing as the goal, but when he assessed our financial situation, he couldn’t see room for that level of giving.  To be fair, I don’t worry very much about what is in our bank account now or in the future.  So, we started our married life giving a small percentage of our income, but we were committed to slowly increasing that percentage until we reached tithing.  Read More →

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