From November 3-17 Trinity will be engaged in our Annual Giving Campaign. It is an important time in our common life calling us to intentionally reflect and respond to what it means to be a community of faith supporting the ministry we share. Each fall we boldly talk about money and both its power and promise as we plan for another exciting year ahead.
This year we are once again blessed to be able to use resources made available through The Episcopal Network for Stewardship (TENS). Included is a wonderful series of reflections offered by a wide variety of members across the Episcopal Church based on the gospel reading for the coming Sunday. I am going to “yield the remainder of my blog” over the course of these three weeks to share these various voices.
Come home this Sunday to greet friends and make new ones; and to be fed and reminded of the love and work we are given in equal parts. We are ready for the year ahead and you are an invaluable member of the community making us more than we could ever be alone.
May you never forget that you are loved,
Zacchaeus: A Model for Spiritually Motivated Giving
By Cathy Clement
As the alumni president of my small Christian college, I worked with the vice president who was a part-time pastor. He told me of a parishioner who came to him for counseling but spent all his time bragging about his love affairs. When my friend finally asked the man, “How much money did you make last year?” the man blushed.
We have a funny relationship with money.
Speaking of how we feel about money – who has it, how they got it, what they do with it – I was inspired to view Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus as a model for stewardship and was surprised at the depth of the story.
As a child, I sang “Zacchaeus Was a Wee Little Man.” That’s as far as I took the story. Later in life as a fund-raiser I came to realize that the story has all the features of spiritually motivated philanthropy.
“Step One”- is prospect identification. What’s the first thing we learn about Zacchaeus? “He wanted to see who Jesus was.” He sought out Jesus. Before he knew anything, Zacchaeus was committed to finding out. We also know that he was rich. He had the capacity to be generous. He also had a guilty conscience.
“Step Two” – is cultivation – Jesus singles him out from the many in the crowd. “Zacchaeus, come down immediately.” In spite of the fact that the people are critical of Jesus’ paying attention to a rich sinner: “They muttered, He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’” (The Bible seems to use “air quotes.”)
“Step Three” – Jesus makes a proposal: “I must stay at your home today.” The use of the word “must” implies divine imperative. Then Jesus meets Zacchaeus face-to-face, not in Jesus’ “office” but on Zacchaeus’s turf.
What is Zacchaeus’s response (“Step Four”)?
He welcomes Jesus gladly. And he takes action: Zacchaeus gives half of his assets to the poor and offers to pay four times the amount if he has cheated anyone – the most extreme repayment required under the law (Ex 22:1; 2 Sam 12:6).
Finally, there’s the “Follow-Up.” As an individual, Zacchaeus receives a spiritual reward. “Today salvation has come to this house.” The community observers learn that even a rich sinner is part of the family: “This man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Both the individual and the community are blessed by spiritually motivated giving.
Cathy Clement is the retired Director of Philanthropy at Five Acres, a child-abuse prevention, treatment and education center in Altadena, California. She is a member of All Saints Church, Pasadena, and the president of the TENS board of directors.
The Episcopal Network for Stewardship