Dear friends at All Saints,
At this time of year, the Finance Committee usually asks me to write to the church family to say thank you for your generous giving during the last year and to invite you to consider your giving for the next year and, in a sense, that is what I want to do.
First of all, a massive thank you for all your very generous giving during a difficult year. Despite the financial challenges that many have faced due to the virus, the church family rose to the challenge to make support donations to help us balance the books. Members of the congregation gave an additional £12,500 on top of their regular giving this year and we want to thank God for the grace he gave you to make that possible. The result is that we shall be able to balance our books and put £3,000 aside to help us with the challenges we shall face next year. So may I add my thanks to those of the Finance Committee.
Next year we shall no doubt face another challenging year financially. We shall receive a significantly reduced income from the letting of the Westminster Road School site; income from both the Church Centre lettings and the Café are likely to be down for at least part of the year; we face a 1% increase in our Parish Share (the money we pay to the Diocese), which will rise to £67,625.
In the light of that, please may I ask you to think and pray about your giving to All Saints in 2021. Unless God acts in a remarkable way it is unlikely that we shall be able to balance the books next year and therefore we will need to draw on the modest reserves we have put aside. If we were able to see a further £12,500 in support donations that would be enormously helpful.
I mentioned earlier that it is the grace of God which enables us to give. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, telling them about the sacrificial giving of the Macedonian Christians and stating that he wants them ‘to know about the grace that God has given’ the Macedonian churches. Grace to be able to give in the midst of ‘a very severe trial’, out of ‘their extreme poverty’, and ‘as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability’ (see 2 Corinthians 8:1-5).
But the greatest example of the grace of God which moves us to give is not other believers, important and challenging though that is. The place where we see the grace of God most clearly is in Jesus self-giving, which is why it’s so appropriate to be writing this in the weeks before Christmas. Paul can say that we ‘know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich’ (2 Corinthians 8:9). Our Lord impoverished himself to save us, laying aside the glory of heaven to become a human being and humbling himself to death on a cross. That’s grace!
As we fix our eyes on Jesus this Christmas, let’s remember his example as we ask God to show us what we should give in 2021 – what we should give of our wealth, of our time and of our abilities.
And let’s join Paul’s shout of praise: ‘Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!’
With love and prayers in Christ,