Sam Adams or Coors Light?
- Nov 08, 2012
- Category: General
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Sam Adams or Coors Light?
This was one of many questions that fumbled through my mind this past week as I filled out my first pledge card, at least the first based off of a full time income. This was not an easy process. While I was fortunate that my parents had instilled in me the discipline of pledging as a child, challenging me to give a dollar of my weekly allowance - a dollar which slowly grew into 10 dollars, and then 50 dollars, and eventually into 100 dollars during my collegiate experiences. My parents never really articulated the emotions and challenges involved in making a pledge. Not to mention a pledge based off of anything more than the meager allowances that I used to buy small bags of ten-cent candy, G.I. Joes, summer cleats, croakies, oil changes, and eventually a few ardent spirits from the bottom rail of the university’s pub.
Given my new circumstances, as I set down and began analyzing my finances, I was overcome with a flurry of questions considering what I would be able to pledge for the coming year.
Is it bad if I do not pledge 10% of my income?
What if I’m not able to fulfill my pledge, will I have let the church down?
What debts do I have at this moment in my life that I need to eliminate?
What are those luxuries that I could do without (Starbucks coffee, eating out weekly, Sam Adams)?
What opportunities for ministry might be possible if I organized my finances to pledge monthly?
What opportunities might be possible if I pledged monthly what I do for Internet and television?
To be dreadfully honest, the questions were very overwhelming – pledging is not an easy process! I found myself confronted with the reality of coming face to face with the truth, which is to say with God. Are you truly giving to the best of your ability? As I struggled for peace of mind, I phoned a close friend who had recently retired, to voice my thoughts, my concerns, my fears. Our conversation, her words, brought a sense of relief, “of course I didn’t start off contributing 10%, I was strapped with school debt and attempting to get my feet under me in the world. However, gradually over time I was able to increase my pledge, to the point where when I retired, I was pledging considerably more than 10%.”
Pledging recognizes that the journey of faith is a slow and gradual process where we are invited to discover ourselves in relation to God. I found the words of Anglican Theologian William Stringfellow to be helpful in considering my pledge:
“The charity of Christians has no serious similarity to conventional charity but is always a specific dramatization of the members of the Body of Christ losing their life in order that the world be given life. For members of the church, therefore, it always implies a particular confession that their money is not their own because their lives are not their own but, by the example of God’s own love, belong to the world.”
The process of becoming who God has created us to be is a grueling process yet it is also one of the most inspirational and joy-filled experiences of life. While I recognized my pledge would not eliminate the poverty in Sandy Springs, or retire the debt of our new worship space, nor adequately fund our Youth Programs for 2013; I did come to the realization that my pledge combined together with everyone else’s best efforts will make a difference in the life of our church and our community. And so this past week I made my first pledge, in retrospect, what an awesome experience!