During this season of preparing our gifts, those of us on the giving committee have been pondering the following statement:
Giving to God is
…a way to transform our hearts.
…a holy habit and spiritual practice akin to prayer and worship.
…about our own need to give, not about the church’s need to receive.
…about imagining what is possible or what could be.
I am inspired and challenged by the phrase about giving to God as “a holy habit” and I keep being drawn back to those words. I have plenty of habits: some good, some not so good, and some that are just plain bad. But I never associated the word “habit” with the word “holy”. Somewhat facetiously, I thought of a nun’s or monk’s habit when I first pondered the phrase. And maybe that’s not such a bad analogy. Because the point of those garments, those “holy habits,” is to mark the wearer as belonging to Christ. And the point of a habit is through repetition to make something so ingrained as to become automatic, a way of being. What does it mean, then, for my giving to God to be — or become — a “holy habit”? Certainly it means to bless it, to dedicate it, to set it apart, to let God make it holy. And in doing so, I am reminded that the giving — in that old phrase of “time, talent, and treasure”… in other words of myself — becomes more than anything I could do of my own accord.
A few years ago I had the pleasure and privilege of making the banner for All Saints with the children of our church. I love the banner because all those hands seem so joyous and they remind us of the children whose hands they are. Those hands also remind us that saints aren’t just those who have gone before, but that we are saints in the here and now, and those hands remind us especially of what hands joined together in our community can do that is greater than any of us alone: they remind us of our hands being the hands of Christ in the world.
And as I look at the banner, I see more than St. Paul’s, Brunswick. I see God’s church in the world. And here’s my confession of sorts. I did design that banner and make it with the kids, but this is actually the fourth iteration I’ve done in four parishes over the last 25 years or so. (That made it easy to say “yes” when Kris Agudelo asked if I would do it and I did get better at it with each iteration.) When I look at that banner, I don’t just see the children St. Paul’s. I see and hear the raised chorus of children’s voices in churches which have been a family for my family, which have nurtured, loved, supported, and prayed for us and I am deeply, deeply grateful for that community in Christ.
So in giving to St. Paul’s, I give in thanks for this community. I give in thanks for the promises that we make at Baptism to welcome the newly baptized – that Ada and Oliver have joined the rank of the saints, marked as Christ’s own. I give in thanks for solace, strength, pardon, renewal, grace, and that we are one body in Christ, serving the world. I give in trust for what God will do with and through this parish. And I give in hope that God will make my giving a habit and make it holy.