St John the Baptist Parish Church

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News from the clergy

Vicar's column - February 2017

The discipline of Mindfulness – noticing and savouring things that we might otherwise overlook – helps us to count our blessings. When we stop and think about it there is much to appreciate. God gives to us and, in gratitude, we respond. There are two ways in which we can give back to God. One way is ourselves; as a “human resource”, our time and our talents. Everyone has gifts they to offer in the service of the church. If you are new to St John’s and ready to become a little more involved, or an old hand who would like to try out a new area of church life, then do have a chat with me about it and pick up a copy of the “Time and Talents” form at the back of the hall. One way in which church members can get really involved and have more of a say in church life is to join the PCC – see inside for details.

The second area, which we are focusing on this month, is financial. The bible is rich in material on God’s generosity to us and our response. God gives to us abundantly in creation and redemption, and in sustaining life day by day. Over 2,300 biblical verses and one third of Jesus’ parables are on the subject of money, wealth and possessions. They suggest generous giving should be:

  • A priority – assessed in relation to our income and not out of our spare change
  • Planned but also allowing for spontaneous generosity
  • Proportionate – a realistic proportion of our income
  • Prayerful – an act of thanksgiving and worship
  • Given in community – for the needs of others and with others for a common purpose
  • Cheerfully and joyfully given
  • Sacrificial – there is a cost to our giving and we are called to be Christ-like

It is a good discipline to allocate a percentage of our monthly income to the church and worthy charities. There are tax efficient ways of doing this – please pick up a copy of the “Giving to your Church” leaflet if you don’t have one. As a church we give 12.5 % of the planned giving received to mission organisations (see the “Missions” notice board and St John’s website) and so your giving also supports that. You might like to factor that in when considering the amount you give. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, a “tithe” (10%) was standard but ultimately it is between you and God to work out what is appropriate for your financial and family circumstances. Of course, if you yourself have fallen upon hard times then the church community should be there to help you out!

It is easy to forget how affluent we are in the West comparative to our ancestors and neighbours elsewhere on the planet. Our attitude counts. Biblically based giving may require a paradigm shift in our world-view. The outworking of our faith should encompass every aspect of our lives:

To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything he has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.

Thomas Merton Trappist Monk  (1915-1968)

Rev Lisa Cornwell