Throughout the church, clergy and leaders are beginning to raise money.
The campaign we are about to launch in our church will, like so many others, fund the mission and ministry of our church. It is hard and it can be thankless- even dangerous in family systems. But understanding why helps.
I have been raising money and pots now for my entire career as a working person and I have always known both the beauty and pathos of fundraising. The beauty comes from a two-edged sword.
On one hand, we raise money, which helps people to live. In Haiti I raised money for rural pigs to fund family-life after the swine flue epidemic. In Richmond, Virginia for inner-city child care in the Gilpin housing projects. In seminary for a sculpture of Jesus in their gardens, and in the monastery and church, for people who meet Jesus – or are trying to- and who seek to care for others in Jesus’ name.
On the other hand, we fundraisers raise money in order to transform the lives of those who give their money away. And for me, that is the most important thing we do. Some who give are warm, kind and loving. But others become warm or kind or loving through the act of giving – think Ebenezer Scrooge. Giving opens them – makes them better – while the money they give makes the world better.
There are so few win-win situations in life. This issue of giving our money away is one of them. And the resistance fundraisers face can be terrible indeed. We are pushing buttons that evil sewed on.
Sure, people hate to talk about it. Some want to give – and others…they want to keep the money in case they need it. They make it their God – their safety net. In God we trust? … Really?
So you can imagine the way fundraisers get scapegoated – even hated along the way. We represent human vulnerability and our very existence calls people’s integrity into question. If we kill the fundraisers, we kill the questions they raise about our integrity.
But we are a valuable little vocation – a scrappy little bunch. We make wonderful transformations occur. We change the people for whom money is raised and we change the people who give. Or, at least we try until we drop.
“LOVE. CARE. GIVE.”
The second word of our stewardship campaign theme this year is “CARE.” The word comes from ancient languages and emerged from the old English words for lamentation. In fact early Germanic terms for “Good Friday” were “Care Friday.” When we care, we cry out, we grieve, we long for change around suffering of others. It’s rather basic to our faith really.
It’s like the way an old-fashioned telescope opens in the hands of a sea-captain – one section emerges by sliding out form the previous section. When we care, we are crying out and this “crying out” emerges from the love we have for others.
So then love slides out. And from that love, we care- we cry out – we want justice for those who suffer. And then, if we fundraisers do our jobs well, we midwife giving so that the love we know and offer makes caring possible and then makes giving feel a reasonable response to caring.
We are being “Scrooged” in life. And fundraisers help that process unfold- like yeast. Pledging, giving, leaving money in our wills – this is not work we do to relieve suffering – though that happens. Giving is work we do which emerges out of our cry of love God and humans. Getting help with that work is what fundraisers offer. To our peril in systems; and to our joy in God. Jesus died and rose again as an icon to that reality.
Bakers have Saint Bridget. Musicians have Saint Cecelia. Mothers have Mary. Nurses have Florence Nightingale. Monks have Saint Anthony. Fundraisers have Jesus.
In our grief and shame, we kill vocations which midwife love, but then we love what their death makes possible.