Inspiring Generosity


Inspiring Generosity


3/29/2017

The New “Widow’s Mite”
 

Two measly coins?              Royce Bair @flickr.com

It’s Spring Break! And where, might I ask, is the sun? Where is my own private island with my ukulele serenade by George Clooney while holding my little drink with an umbrella? Is that too much to ask? Clearly, I guess it is. So if you don’t mind, I’m going to take a moment, close my eyes and go to my special place of sunshine, unicorns, and George Clooney. Ah, I’m better now.
 
Speaking of non-frivolous things: the widow’s mite. Let’s recap.      
 
The widow comes into the synagogue. The really rich people, who were ignoring her plight, threw in large contributions to the offering plate. Their gifts were not necessarily sacrificial – there’s no indication that that their daily lives were impacted by what they gave. The widow, however, put two “measly” coins into the offering. And Jesus says, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.” (Mark 22:44-41, The Message)
 
This scripture is not ancient news. The Chronicle of Philanthropy stated:

“The wealthiest Americans—those who earned $200,000 or more—reduced the share of income they gave to charity by 4.6 percent from 2006 to 2012. Meanwhile, Americans who earned less than $100,000 chipped in 4.5 percent more of their income during the same time period.”
 
It’s no surprise that we need the rich to give in order for congregations and non-profits to thrive. As Ken Berger from Charity Navigator said, “About 70% of all charitable giving in the U.S. is given by the wealthy in this country. If we didn’t have the rich giving the way they are giving, between 70% and 80% of all charitable giving in the U.S. would disappear overnight. Trashing the wealthy isn’t fair.”
 
That’s true andit’s time to celebrate even the smallest sacrificial gifts of people who believe in you and give you “their all.” A recent e-mail newsletter from Lisa Joyce of Pentacle Theatre in Salem, OR highlights this very thing:
 
We have a faithful donor -- I'll call him Richard -- who sends us $5 every month from his room at the Oregon State Hospital. Over the two years I've been Pentacle's executive director, Richard and I have developed a lovely relationship through our exchanged letters. He saves to buy stamps and envelopes, and writes his notes on the back of used Sudoku puzzles. 
 
This month, he was unable to make a gift due to a change in his employment status. 
 
However, he still took the time to write us a lovely letter explaining his situation and committing to resuming his regular giving as soon as he was able. I read his letter to one of our amazing board members who was then moved to make an anonymous gift in Richard's name. 
 
This is a long way of saying that each gift -- no matter the size -- deepens our connection with this wonderful community and makes great theater possible.
 
I love, love, love this story. I love it because it’s not just about the monthly check. It’s about relationship. It’s about Richard’s generosity inspiring generosity in others. It’s about celebrating community. It’s a reminder that each person, no matter their social status, or where they live, or how much they give…each person is important and is worthy of being seen.
 
Who are your “widows”? Maybe it’s time to go find your rays of sunshine, make connections, and thank them for their sacrificial gift. Even George Clooney would approve.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. Next year’s spring break: sun, unicorns, and George Clooney. She was the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. She is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.
 
If someone has forwarded this to you and you would like to subscribe to "Inspiring Generosity," click here.  Miss an issue?  Click here.
 
 
 
 


comments powered by Disqus

Cesie Delve Scheuermann

Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.

Boldly Making Disciples of Jesus Christ - Vitalizing the Church - Transforming the World