Prayer: May we give you the first fruits of our labor, Lord, and see the joy in giving back to you. Amen.
Reading: Exodus 23.11-21 (Click to read text)
Stop and GROW: After reading the text, discuss/ponder the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Book of Faith questions, which are part of Camp Mount Luther's GROW Time with campers.
QUESTION 1: What scares, confuses, challenges, or doesn’t make sense to me in this text?
QUESTION 2: What delights me in this text or is my favorite part of the story?
QUESTION 3: What stories or memories does this text stir in me?
QUESTION 4: What is God up to in this text?
Reflection: Giving to the church has always been important to me. And, providing our children the chance to earn an allowance has been the talk in our home recently. Interestingly enough, the two thoughts came together recently. Let me explain.
As I was putting money in our church envelope one Sunday, I thought back to the days when I was a youngster in my home congregation. I'm guessing I was probably in second or third grade when I decided I wanted offering envelopes. I watched my parents place theirs in the offering plate each week and I decided that I wanted to do the same. I was earning an allowance at home (I think about 40 cents a week or something like that) and heard that when you earn money, it's important to give back to God. So, my parents talked to the church secretary (I believe) and I got my own offering envelopes.
I remember that each time I received my allowance, I would put back some of it in my offering envelope. I probably put 10 cents in but it was the beginning steps of my faithful giving to the church. Since I've been an adult, I've kept the same practice of giving a generous portion of my income to God. In fact, when I got my first job, a friend of mine said that if you give to God first, you won't want for money. That's been just my experience.
And now to allowance. We've been talking about starting some kind of allowance system for our children. They often want something material and we think it is wise to teach them the value of hard work and earning funding to buy the things you want. We'd like to "pay them" for doing chores around the house, starting them now earning an income. As we are discussing our options, I've thought about my allowance and how a portion of it was given to the church. I wonder if my children will want to replicate what I did as a child and continue to do as an adult. How important will it be to them to give back to God?
A few weeks ago, our supply pastor gave the kids all a quarter during the children sermon. He told the kids to do with the quarter what they wished. He also explained that they should put God first over money. He was back with us today and recalled doing that, asking the kids what they did with their quarter. Unfortunately, my daughter didn't remember what she did with hers. My guess is that it ended up in our change container. She's young, but I guess we have some work to do. I want to teach my children the importance of giving to God first. I hope when they receive an allowance, they will make it a priority as I have done. –Chad Hershberger
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