Last night in worship, we heard a delicious story about German Chocolate Cake.
And so I'm excited for Sunday, when chocolate cake will be served between worship services...all because of this story.
I'm not going to share the story, because you get to hear it on Sunday either at St. John or over the radio on 1230 AM at 10:30 a.m. MDT. My friend, Faith Simonieg, will tell it. (I hope you feel very much in suspense at this very moment!)
Faith has been one of my favorite colleagues throughout the years. We served together on staff at St. John when she was the Director of Stewardship and Executive Director of the Trust Fund. I learned all I know about stewardship from Faith and from Pastor Steve Tangen. They both spoke language, year after year, that lifted up God's abundance in the world and in the church. It was a message inviting people to give, not because the church needs the money, but because giving makes us joyful.
These days, Faith serves as the regional Gifts Planner for our synod, the Western North Dakota Synod, for the ELCA. In other words, she travels around the synod, visiting with individuals, pastors, councils, endowment fund committees, and small groups and talks about God's abundance.
In those visits, she shares very concrete ways planned gifts can be given by individuals or families that leave a "Christ mark" on the world, to use her words. As she worked with the Trust Fund at St. John, she was very clear in saying "the size of the gift doesn't matter". And it's true. The size of the gift isn't as important as what the gift does to the giver.
I know that sounds backwards. Giving is meant to leave an impact on another: another person or another organization.
But as I see the generosity of so many people at St. John, year after year, I know it's the opposite. Giving leaves a Christ mark, not only on the world, but certainly also, maybe even more profoundly, on the giver. Giving makes us joyful. It leaves us more free. And giving of our time, talent, and treasure unites us with our God and our neighbor in a way nothing else in this world ever could.
That's why you need to hear the story about chocolate cake. It is delicious (the cake and the story), and it just might leave you thinking differently about giving.