Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Culture of Generosity

First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will begin its annual Stewardship Campaign next Sunday, November 4, 2012.  Our theme for this year’s Stewardship Campaign is Creating a Culture of Generosity.  As a part of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), we are greatly influenced by the practices and faith of the early church.  Around the year 112 AD, an early Roman administrator named Pliny the Younger wrote back to Emperor Trajan about the Christians in a province in Asia Minor, which is present-day Turkey.  He remarked in his letter that the Christians gather weekly to celebrate a meal of bread and wine and sing the Psalms throughout the service.  In 155 AD, an early Christian leader, Justin Martyr, wrote a letter to the Emperor explaining how Christians worshiped.  In his defense, he mentions that each week the deacons of the church would bring wine, bread, oil and money to the leader of the congregation to be blessed.  The gifts of treasure would be put aside for the support of widows and orphans and for the support of promoting the Gospel.  The oil would be used by the elders to anoint the sick.  The wine and bread were then blessed and used for the celebration of the meal of Thanksgiving, the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper.  These gifts were essential in reminding the people of God’s gift to us.  Psalm 104:15 was a hymn that many early Christians would have sung. “(God) brings forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the human heart, oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the human heart.”

Our Campaign logo reminds us of the early church’s culture of generosity.  The work of the church has not changed.  Today, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) continues the ancient tradition of celebrating the Lord’s Supper as the central act of our worship.  Like those early Christians, bread and wine are used to remember the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  We still anoint the sick with oil as a prayer of confidence that our God is a healing God. Likewise, we still gather the treasure of the saints for the support of the Gospel and the mission of our congregation.  Even though our congregation does not have any vineyard owners, farmers or olive grove tenders, we still use these gifts from God to celebrate the gift of salvation and to heal the sick.  The treasure you give to the work of First Christian Church is used to celebrate salvation, heal the world and proclaim the Gospel.

Our Stewardship Department reported to our General Board that First Christian Church remains a tithing Church.  I believe tithing is an essential discipline that reminds us that God is solely responsible for all we have. God has blessed this community and the world through your spirit of generosity.  This culture of generosity is found in every facet of our congregational life.  Our Disciples Women’s Ministries is nationally recognized as a top supporter of missions.  Our Youth Group tithes 10% of all their fundraisers to missions.  Our Men’s Fellowship Breakfast is a generous supporter of many of our outreach ministries.  Everywhere you turn in our congregation you will meet people who have been blessed by a generous God, and consequently, are a generous people.  It is who we are. It is in our DNA; it is our culture. We are a people who are creating a culture of generosity.  Thank you!

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