Happy New Year! This blog post is the written version of the reflection I gave this morning at church, which answered the question posed to me recently, “Why do you give to the church?” At first, I thought it would be easy to sum it up in three minutes of talking. After several hours of editing out so much, here is my final reply!
First, I need to explain what “church” means to me. Church means: being in community with each and every one of you; challenging and fun choir rehearsals and performances; social justice events which are both social and just; joys and sorrows shared openly and with care; phone calls, Facebook, and e-mail updates to keep in touch; spiritually moving and stimulating sermons; and, church is embodied by the tremendous care given to my son in the children's religious education program.
So that's what church is. What else has church done for me? When I first joined First Unitarian in '97, I found like-minded young adults in our fledgling Campus Ministry group. I learned more about Unitarian Universalism while attending several Adult Religious Education Classes. In those classes I had the chance to really get to know the ministers and lay leaders, as well as other seekers like me. I felt needed and wanted, and accepted for who I am and what I did, regardless of my slowly maturing theology.
What else have I gotten out of church? As I grew comfortable with the ins and outs of congregational life, I joined more committees and took an increasing interest in the behind-the-scenes workings of the church, gaining valuable leadership skills. I was married by Reverend Holly Horn; this church celebrated the birth of my son, and he was dedicated here and began attending classes, ...
I had to stop there... the list keeps going on and on, and you may notice I haven't even discussed the safe physical haven, the caring and committed staff which allow these programs to happen, the heat in the winter, the decorations, the stocked kitchen which feeds us during potlucks, … well, this list goes on and on as well!
I came to realize when writing this, that in explaining what church means to me, I actually was explaining why I give to the church. It's simple: I'm giving back to the church, and I'm investing in my, and your, future! Everything I've ever received from the church can be explained through others giving of their time, energy, and love. Furthermore, the money given by those who came before, has ended up providing the resources I am using this very day. I've been picking lots of fruit from trees planted by others; I've been drawing a lot of water from deep wells which I did not dig.
Why do I give? I'm planting and digging for those who will come after me, so that they too, may be blessed with this wonderful spiritual community.