Lotteries, Life and Left-Handedness
A decade ago (when life was especially hectic with our two lively young children), my attendance at Parkdale was somewhat sporadic and my givings were even less predictable. Whenever I was passed the offering plate, I simply reached into my messy purse and pulled out whatever bill(s) that it contained. Sometimes Parkdale got lucky – I had been to the bank the day before and, of course, the automated banking machine only gave out twenties. I know that I was not tithing as I should have been.
One day, I ran into the then Minister of Parkdale, Rev. Dr. Andrew Stirling, at Carlingwood shopping centre. He was wearing his clerical collar. We chatted amiably for several minutes. A man who had just purchased a lottery ticket a few metres away (in front of the Sears store) called out to Andrew. “Hey, Padre, say a prayer that I win!”
“Only if you promise to give 10 percent to the church,” replied Andrew. The man agreed. It was at that moment that I promised myself that I would give more generously to Parkdale.
Then, life threw me a curve ball a few years ago and I was forced to steward my finances even further. At that time, I worked at another job. I was passionate about my work, but the environment had changed and I was under such stress that I gave up that job and willingly accepted one where I would earn approximately 15 percent less salary. I can honestly say that I don’t miss that 15 percent (read: tithing is only 10 percent). It was/is simply a matter of financial priorities.
Of course, Andrew Stirling is not the only one who has inspired me and reminded me over the years that God calls us to give generously to our church. How could a person not be inspired by Anthony’s wonderful sermon a few months ago entitled “Scattering the Wealth”? Certainly, everyone in attendance remembers when he enthusiastically raised the offering plate overhead and then turned it upside down, scattering the contents all over the sanctuary floor in front of him. Reflecting on that sermon and that action soon led me to share my own wealth through a significant donation to Parkdale that was over and above my regular givings.
I will probably also remember Anthony’s recent Ash Wednesday sermon for a while. He read a Scripture lesson that cautioned us not to let our left hand know when our right hand was giving. I chuckled to myself. What about us ambidextrous people who can write cheques with both our left hand and our right hand? Does that mean that we should be giving twice as much? Good thing that Anthony did not know what I was thinking. He probably would have joked that I should indeed give two cheques to Parkdale instead of one.
Are there tithings or bequests that you feel led to share with Parkdale in order to support its valuable ministries? I would be happy to lend you a pen to write the cheque, assuming, of course, that I can find one in my messy purse.