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Before AND After: The Generosity of Gratitude

By:  Rev. David Auten, First Congregational Church of Ramona

Auten, David“Thank you,” she said enthusiastically and with a warm smile.  “We’ve never received a thank you card from a church for our giving.”  “Never?” I asked.  (I was a bit shocked, to say the least.)  “Never,” she said.  This kind lady, a faithful giver and regular worshiper here at the First Congregational Church of Ramona (FCC), is one of twenty-three members who recently increased their annual pledge to the church.  Some of our members were not asked to increase their pledge, but did so anyway.  Others, among our donor base, were invited to do so, and responded joyfully.  Between the “ask” that was sent out in the mail, and the “receive” of an updated pledge card that we got back in the mail a few weeks later, we witnessed a $16k increase in our giving for this year.  And it wasn’t even “stewardship season.”

The people coming to FCC have come to love the unique flavor of this simultaneously postmodern and historic church.  And in response to their amazing generosity, I took the time to personally handwrite a thank you card to each and every person.  It was a small thing.  But it seemed the very least I could do.  After all, these church members had done something that so clearly demonstrated their love and passion for the Body of Christ.  They had demonstrated their love and passion with more than just words.  They had demonstrated their love and passion for Christ through that beautiful thing called generosity—freely giving, even as God freely gives to us.  And the very best response to such generosity is gratitude.  Pure and simple, we don’t say “thank you” enough as pastors and teachers in our congregations.  “Thank you” must hedge our members in before we invite them to consider giving of their time, talent, and treasure.  And surely it must follow after they choose to give of themselves, especially in a world where they could choose to spend their time and money in a hundred other noble ways.  Gratitude is the ground of giving.  It is the subtle soil of good stewardship.  As Cicero once wrote, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”

With Joy and Gratitude,

 David Auten Signature

 

Rev. David Auten

 

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