There are many reasons we give to Church, some expect blessings, some do so out of obligations and some give as thanksgiving. As the title suggests the Orthodox Church sees giving as stewardship as a sacred offering. That requires two paradigm shifts, one to stewardship and a one for giving as an offering.
Stewardship vs Ownership
If I handed you a $20 bill and asked you to give it to someone else, you would probably hand it over without a problem, and that person would have no problem handing it back to me. However, if I were to ask you to reach into your own pocket and give me or someone else $20, there would probably be some hesitation. Why do you act differently in these two situations? In the first instance, you were given something to take care of that was not yours, you were a Steward. In the second instance, you felt ownership of the money in your pocket.
Some biblical examples of stewardship can be found in Adam and Creation, where Adam was made the steward of all of the creation. In the story of King David and building the Temple, the people gave generously for the building of the temple because they understood everything they had was the belonged to the Lord. In the New Testament, the parable of the talents illustrates how God has given us gifts that we should use correctly rather than squander.
Giving as a Sacred Offering
The second shift in thinking is giving as a Sacred offering. Our giving can be seen as a cycle in which God creates all things and gives them as gifts to his stewards. Who in thanksgiving for receiving his gifts returns the first and finest as a sacred offering.
Some biblical examples of sacred offerings can be found in Abel’s offering to God. In Abram offering 10% of all he acquired to the priest Melchizedek in thanksgiving to God. In the window who offered all that she had at the Temple.
We will continue discussing the shift towards Stewardship in the second installment of this series and discuss the shift towards giving as a sacred offering in the third installment of this series. Finally, in the last installment, we will take some time to discuss how we can implement Stewardship as a Sacred offering at St. Luke.