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Letter from Emily: The Mathematics of Grace

Dear Lydians,

At church we often talk about the backward, upside-down-ness of the Gospel. When Jesus tells parables, nothing about them makes sense, at least according to the way the world usually runs. In Jesus’ stories, the last are first and the first are last.

I’ve been thinking this week about how this backward upside-down-ness of our faith even applies to math. When we were kids, we learned that four minus two was two. If you had four apples and you gave two away, you’d have fewer than you started with. The message? If you give, you’ll have less. It makes sense logically, but perhaps not spiritually.

In his brief work, “A Spirituality of Fundraising,” priest and author Henri Nouwen writes that when you give, you are invited “to an experience of conversion: you won’t become poorer, you will become richer by giving.”

Just like Jesus, Nouwen turns everything upside-down when he talks about the spirituality of money. He writes, “Giving is, first and foremost, a form of ministry. It is a way of…declaring, ‘We have a vision that is amazing and exciting. We are inviting you to invest yourself through the resources that God has given you — your energy, your prayers, your money — in the work to which God has called us.’”

So it turns out that when we give, we don’t have less, but in fact have more: an upside-down mathematic of grace.

Today, I’m writing to encourage you, as 2014 begins to unfold, to take time in prayer and meditation to reflect on your financial commitment to St. Lydia’s this year. With the knowledge that, through giving, our lives are enriched, what might you commit to support and nurture our growing community?

Making a pledge and giving throughout the year helps me remember that what we have is a gift from God. I can let go of a portion of what we have with trust that God will hold me. After considering my income and financial obligations, I’ve decided on an amount that feels generous and sustainable for 2014.

I invite you to join me in giving at a level that is generous and sustainable for you. If you’d never pledged before, my recommendation is to simply begin the practice by starting with an amount that feels manageable.

All you have to do is click here to send a giving form to Rachel Pollak. You can also fill out a giving form in person at church and put it in the offering plate. Or, you can set up automatic giving through your bank, which is easy to do online. Just contact Rachel and she’ll get you set up with the information you need.

As always, I immensely grateful for all the individual ways each of you has built this community. Thank you for all you do, from putting out napkins to drying dishes to leading singing and sewing sheep costumes. I love you all bunches, and I’m so pleased to have the opportunity to invite you to give.

Four minus two is more,


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