A long time ago, I helped a friend and her fiancé move house. Whoops. I wasn’t supposed to say that. I helped a friend’s fiancé move house. She never lived there. No, not at all… (‘yes, Mrs Mother, it was lovely to see so much of your daughter all those weekends she stayed with me. What a white wedding it’s been.’)
But my enduring memory of the moving day, after all the boxes were unpacked and the stairs climbed, is of dinner arriving. My friend snatched her fiancé’s wallet, pried it open and waved it about saying, ‘breathe, breathe!’: a subtle comment on how seldom his wallet saw the light of day and how liberating he would find it to buy us all dinner.
Thankfully, he laughed. He was, at heart, generous; though by habit very cautious with money. He knew it was good for him that his beloved would, just occasionally, wave his wallet around with great abandon. She gave him a sense of freedom and of joy.
Giving should be like that.
I spent much of today thinking about church finance. You will all know, or be able to guess by now, that finance is neither my love nor my strength. I’m sure that’s why I always hated Monopoly. (Once I had obtained Park Avenue and all the other lovely dark blues, why on earth would I want property in Pennsylvania?)
So, to think and talk about giving and church finance makes me think of people who are better at it than I am. My friend and her fiancé. The school chaplain who very matter-of-factly said, ‘I’ve learned that if I give 10% away even when there is no way I can reasonably afford to, God makes it work out.’ The then French-teacher who would get all stressed in late November, looking for more people to send money to since she hadn’t given enough away.
I am thankful for these people who were unembarrassed to speak of giving. Who thought tithing was natural. Who could wave wallets and cheque-books around freely saying ‘breathe, breathe.’
A few deep breaths like that, and we might even be able to avoid the sharp gasp that comes of seeing treasurer’s balance sheet.