For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints— and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you. 2 Corinthians 8:3-6
If you were in worship on the Sunday in early November that launched St. Luke’s financial stewardship program for 2016, you would have heard that the “they” in the quote above from Second Corinthians were the Christians in Macedonia. St. Paul praised their willingness to give according to—and even beyond—their means in support of a collection to relieve the suffering of the poor Christians (the “saints”) in Jerusalem. He uses the example of the Macedonians to urge the Corinthians to respond in kind when Titus visits to collect their offering in support of “this generous undertaking.”
We do not know the outcome of Paul’s appeal to the Corinthians, but we can probably assume it was an uphill struggle since he devoted a lot of ink to his exhortation in Second Corinthians! In contrast, we heard during our stewardship program about the swift and generous response of Charlotte Hollerbach to God’s call to give of her money and herself. As a member of St. Luke’s in the early 20th century, she heard about the needs of Lutheran missions in India, and she quickly enlisted as a missionary. We learned that Lotte, as she was called, taught young women in India to manufacture lace as a means of making a living. Lotte supported the work with her time and money, along with tending to other missionary duties.
We are all now challenged to decide how each of us will participate in the work of a collective generous undertaking for the ministries of St. Luke’s in 2016. In light of your commitments as a Christian, please consider your pledge and submit it—by placing it in the offering plate or sending it to the church office—no later than Sunday, December 5th, which is the closing date of our financial stewardship program. A pledge form is available on the congregation’s website, and copies will be available on Sunday at the church. Help our congregation complete this generous undertaking among us.