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This is a letter in response to the Gary Langness newsletter on "My Story-Your Story."
What is my story of giving? Where did I learn giving? Much like Pastor Gary's story that I received today, I learned about giving and stewardship from my mother. To be fair I had two wonderful parents and I really "caught" it from both of them, but I do believe I received more of that education from my mother.
As a child, our congregation published giving reports, but not by name. Instead, they would print the number of people in different dollar ranges (as is the practice with other congregations still today). My father was a teacher and my mother a part time librarian. Despite their level of income my parents were often in the category of top givers. As a result, it really surprised and impressed me when my mother talked about why she played the organ and piano at church. She explained that because she and my father didn't make a large amount of money, they couldn't give very much in the offering plate. It was because they couldn't give the kind of money they wanted to that my mother gave to the church in this way. She shared the gift of music with which God had blessed her.
I never realized that my family wasn't rich. I can't imagine a single thing I ever went without. If I needed a new pair of jeans I would get them. When basketball season rolled around I got new shoes. Sure there were many times when I complained as a teenager about there being "nothing to eat," but that just meant there wasn't the particular snack that I wanted. There was always plenty of food in the cupboard.
It turns out that a teacher and a part time librarian are not highly paid. Yet, there was always enough for the family; there was always money for the offering plate. My parents' giving was dollar-wise comparable to doctors, lawyers, and engineers. Still, that didn't feel like enough, so my mother played the organ at our church for nearly twenty years. She had more to give. What a gift that was for the congregation and what a gift that was for me.
M. Div. Intern
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