Last night our Vestry voted on the destination of our "loose plate" collection for the month of October. While checks, and cash in pledge envelopes, go entirely to the operating account as pledges, the "loose offering" is the general cash, or checks with a memo pointing them to the general income. Each month the loose offering given on the first Sunday goes to the Rector's Discretionary Fund, supporting folks in need in our parish, community, and more broadly. The loose offerings given on the other Sundays are divided 50% to the parish and 50% beyond the parish, to an organization we discern to be living the Gospel.
There are forms at both entrances to the worship space if you have an organization in mind for our loose plate giving!
In October we will be giving to the Hopkinton Library Foundation. The Library recently had a fire, and is rebuilding. And although insurance is covering much or all of the damage to building and books, the Library, which serves our whole community "rich and poor alike" is gathering up renewed energy in this time of big disruption. Through our gift we are joining this practice of resurrection.
In November our offering will go to the Sean Powers Wood Bank in Hopkinton. The Wood Bank provides wood and fuel assistance to those who need help heating their home, and perhaps more importantly reminds us to turn to our neighbors and ask how they are doing keeping warm, or ask for help keeping warm. A lot of us have been taught to shy from asking for help, but it turns out that this is nestled in the heart of the Gospel! "Ask, and the door shall be opened unto you."
What stood out to me most though was the way we make these gifts. The Vestry started out with the question of a general gift to the Library. But then said, "Hey, we've already got a specific way of making these kinds of gifts. It's the Samaritan Fund Loose Plate Offering." And I was caught by the fact that when we give in this way, it's not a sort of afterthought, and it's not a gift based in any way on what we "have left" after taking care of our operational budget...
When we give through the offering plate we are giving right off the top. Our "first fruits," as early scriptures on agrarian giving say. When we give through the offering plate we also make giving an act of worship; bound right up with the giving of the bread and wine that we bless and eat in Christ. So we will send not just our dollars to the Library and Wood Bank, but also our prayers and the presence of our spirits.
For what will we pray, give our spirits, and direct our offering plate dollars in December, January, beyond? Where is your heart already drawn that you can draw all our prayers to by making a recommendation on this giving? I hope you'll let us know by filling out a sheet next time you come to worship.