Perhaps you've heard me tell the story of how we came to take an offering every Sunday at the Congregation of St. Martin's. It's a story worth repeating.
One Sunday, after the service, one of the regulars came up to me. He said to me, "People tithe to their church, don't they?" I replied, "Some do." He then said, "I made fifteen dollars singing at the corner of Third and Central last night. I'd like to tithe to my church." Then he handed me two dollars.
The next week I asked the congregation if they thought we should be taking up an offering as part of our service. All of them said yes. Then one of the older members of the congregation said, "Sister, you should have done this long ago."
I think that taking up a weekly offering was what made us see ourselves as church. That, folks having jobs to do, and the sense that when someone isn't there, folks miss them. People in the Congregation of St. Martin's seem to understand the truth that lies beneath that old African proverb, "I am because we are."
I believe that people at Live at Five know the truth of that proverb as well. There's work for everyone to do, and folks pitch in doing what needs to be done so that we all can join around the table every Sunday at five. Most of the people who worship regularly at Live at Five help out in one way or another--reading scripture, leading the prayers, singing, serving at the altar, bringing food for the potlucks, cleaning up after worship and/or after supper. And when people aren't there, they are missed by those who worship with them.
Like the Congregation of St. Martin's, Live at Five also takes up a collection--both on Sundays and through pledging. Last year, our pledges far out-stripped our costs.
Many of you have heard me say that in many ways Live at Five has paved the way for the transition we as a parish are undergoing. Two and a half years ago, we lost our beloved priest. He moved on to a different ministry in the diocese. For a while, we were shaken. We wondered what would happen to us. Our community stuck together. We grieved and then we released ourselves and Father Daniel. We reflected on who we were and on who we were called to be. We found new life growing in us. We can teach St. Michael's a thing or two about transitions.
One amazing aspect of that time in our lives together was not that we continued to support our community through our work and through our wallets, but that our support grew. More and more people volunteered to serve in worship. And our pledges grew as well.
Tomorrow, we will hold an in-gathering of the pledges of our Live at Five Community. If you have not yet pledged, please do so. Let's show St. Michael's what 100% looks like. Think of it--100% of Live at Five pledging to St. Michael's. That's paving the way.
No pledge is too small. It's the commitment to support the community, not the size of the commitment, that's the important thing. Every Sunday, as I walk to the back room at St. Martin's, a man stops me and hands me a handful of change. "It's for the offering," he tells me. He never comes back to the service. He doesn't take communion when we bring it out. But I know that the service is important to him. And his contribution--or rather his contributing--sometimes is the act that gets me through the hard times of the week.
In gratitude for all you do and all you give,