As the sponsoring bishops for the first ever Moravian Day of Giving this February 16, we pondered how we might compete with Fat Tuesday (or Mardi Gras) on the same day. After all, those who celebrate Fat Tuesday tend to think of it as a day of excessive consumption. It’s the last day to eat, drink and be merry before giving it all up for Lent. After Fat Tuesday, it’s 40 days of suffering. Right?
Interestingly, many tend to associate excess with celebration (such as Fat Tuesday). And likewise, we associate self-discipline with suffering (such as Lent). But what does the Bible say? Actually, the Bible associates giving with receiving, not suffering. And the one thing God dares us to “test” God on is giving.
The Bible associates giving with receiving, not suffering.
The association between giving and blessings comes on the highest authority. In Acts 20:35, Jesus himself is quoted as saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Likewise, we are reminded of the relationship between giving and receiving in Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
This relationship is described in Matthew 10:42, Deuteronomy 15:10, 2 Corinthians 9:10, and many other places.
God dares us to “test” God when it comes to giving.
Malachi 3:10-12 says: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe, says the Lord Almighty. Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land, says the Lord Almighty.”
“Floodgates” and “pour” sound a bit excessive and celebratory – more like Fat Tuesday than Lent.
Our Moravian Covenant for Christian Living describes supporting the Church as a “privilege,” an “opportunity,” and a “responsibility.” Giving is a JOYFUL RESPONSE to God’s love. So, we hope you will take a few moments on this February 16 to experience the JOY of giving in this moment before we begin the journey of Lent together.
Consider a gift that is unexpected—above and beyond your tithe or pledge. It can be to your own congregation or fellowship, your district or province, your favorite Moravian agency or ministry. The joy comes from the act of giving more than the amount of the gift.
Last year was tough. Many of our brothers and sisters continue to endure financial hardship and are not in a position to give. Perhaps some will ultimately be the recipients and beneficiaries of ministries supported through our Day of Giving. Some have suffered and continue to suffer physically as well.
But could there also be joy in this moment? If you have been blessed with the privilege and opportunity to endure and recover from these trials, or if you have been spared hardship and illness, praise God! This is the time to express your gratitude with generosity.
If you give through the Moravian Giving Portal at mmfa.info/giving-portal/, you will be entered into drawings for gift cards, Moravian SWAG, and more. So, give abundantly this February 16 if you dare! n
The Rt. Rev. Lane Sapp, pastor of Calvary Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, N.C. and the Rt. Rev. Hopeton Clennon, pastor of Central Moravian Church, Bethlehem, Pa., are bishops of the Moravian Unity. This article appears in the Jan/Feb 2021 edition of The Moravian Magazine.