This article first appeared in “Giving: Growing Joyful Stewards in Your Congregation” magazine which is published annually by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center. The full magazine (chock-full of great ideas) is available for purchase on their website.
Today’s culture can be toxic for children and other living things. If we build our values on the “put-downs” and sound bites of social media and incidences of daily violence that permeate the news, we might lose hope in what the future could hold for our children. How do we nurture a generous spirit in children when it would seem the world is about self-aggrandizement, winning, and having the most toys?
While we may think children are born as empty vessels waiting for family, teachers, and (yes) the church to fill them with love, knowledge, dreams, values, and a purpose, we know that they are already born with a capacity to know God and experience love. As caretakers of our children, it is our responsibility to nurture that which already exists, by providing an environment where their desire to be loved and part of a community is openly welcomed, acting as role models in what it means to be a generous, loving person made in the image of God.
We are born for sympathy and compassion. In a University of Oregon study, economist Bill Harbaugh and psychologist Ulrich Mayr found that charitable generosity activated the reward center of the brain, indicating that our brains are naturally made for kindness. Furthering this research are studies on compassionate meditation such as the one conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which illustrated that through the repeated practice of mindful generosity, we can increase empathetic responses to others.
Continue reading Nurturing Children to Live Generously
On Sunday, November 13th, I led a workshop entitled “Reconnecting Children to Nature” as part of the Climate Stewardship Summit, sponsored by the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network of Connecticut (IREJN). It was an event fused with a commitment to continue to work to fight climate change, especially with the concern that the new presidential administration to take office in January 2017 will not believe in the existence of global warming and climate change. What follows are portions of my presentation, along with resources I referenced.
As adults, it is so easy for us to encounter God’s creation and environmental ideas with a sense of apathy. Children, on the other hand, have a sense of wonder about creation. If they are to keep that same sense of wonder into adulthood, they need to have adults who model these attitudes. This task is not always easily accomplished. My hope is that this workshop will provide information, activities, and resources that will assist you as parents, teachers, and faith leaders to help our children and youth continue to grow in wonder and awe of all that our Creator has given to us. Continue reading Reconnecting Children to Nature
It is that time of year when many congregations undergo their annual stewardship campaigns. Themes, visions, budget goals, and sermons (using many of the parables found in our lectionary during the late Pentecost season) are heard during worship services, morning announcements, worship bulletins, and weekly newsletters. In the Episcopal Church, it’s about encouraging church members to make a financial pledge for the upcoming year. Our churches are funded largely through donations given by members, in addition to those “loose plate” offerings made every Sunday during worship. The target audience is adults – but what about the children? Continue reading Encouraging Generosity in Children
A sermon preached at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Wilton, CT: October 27, 2013 ~ Pentecost Proper 25: Year C
Months ago when I agreed to preach on this Sunday as part of our Fall 2013 Stewardship season I had looked at today’s readings and told myself, easy – these readings really speak to how we respond to God in word and action. Perfect! What if we were all like the Pharisee and tithed as he was expected to do? Certainly our annual financial campaign would produce many more pledges and less anxiety for those who prepare our budget. But the Pharisee is proud in his giving as he approaches God. He doesn’t seem to be called to grow closer to God and neighbor. Isn’t this what stewardship is really about? Ah, that’s the tack I’ll take.
But I’m not as in control of things like I think I am. Perhaps like the Pharisee. My dad, and perhaps God, had something else in mind for me to share with you today. As many of you know, my dad passed away a week ago Friday, having struggled with a number of health issues in recent months. The last two weeks of his life were not pleasant, and my life was filled with frustration with how he was cared for and why his quality of life and dignity had been compromised. But my faith gave me strength; I knew God was with me as well as Cliff, despite the unfairness of it all. I wasn’t alone. Plus I had John and Mary Grace. And the prayers of many of you. Thank you. Continue reading Approaching God
As the Junior Warden (soon-to-be Senior Warden this January) in my home congregation, the topic of stewardship comes up all the time – especially now that it is budget preparing season and our pledge campaign is still underway. When I received this blog post from Bishop Greg Rickel, Diocese of Olympia (western Washington state), his words immediately resonated with me as something I needed to share with others.
Here’s a taste . . .
On this Thanksgiving I relay two interesting conversations, and then something I want you to know. My first conversation is actually one that I have had in many different ways, with many different people. It goes something like this, and the answer can come from someone that gives nothing, to the one who gives a lot to other things in the world, but not so much to the church, and the questions eventually comes up, why they don’t give more? The answer is, basically, I am never sure where the money goes, I don’t have any control over it, and if one is really bold enough to say it, words that eventually amount to, the use of the money seems so frivolous, reckless maybe.
Read more here . . . A Blessing.