A visitor to church a few years ago had the sense of humor to greet me after worship with an interesting observation. He said something like, "Well, we've been visiting quite a few churches, and it seems like we always seem to hit on Money Sunday."
They happened to visit on the final Sunday of our 4-week stewardship season. On the three previous Sundays, we had talked about giving ourselves faithfully to the discipline and practice of communal worship, committing to a group where we study, share, and grow in faith, and finding a place to serve the church or one of our mission partners.
On this fourth and last Sunday of Stewardship, it was our "money" Sunday. We did talk about giving some of our monetary resources to support God's mission through the church. I used the summary statement of Jesus after he taught about giving and offering. He says, "Wherever your money is, that's where your heart will be also."
In the sermon, I noted how some people "church shop," move around from church to church looking for things that "feel right" to us. Americans often prefer churches that look like us in race, age, and income. Americans usually prefer churches that match our musical preferences, in style, instruments, familiarity, and volume. Americans say we prefer churches that seem politically neutral, meaning we are okay with churches that are silent on politics or where our politics are less likely to be challenged, only reinforced. And, Americans are more likely to give money to a church that matches our expectations of these things, and less likely to give to a church that doesn't.
In other words, American church-goers usually give money to a church if it matches where our heart already is. Jesus teaches the opposite of that. He tells us, where we put our treasure, that's where our heart will be.
Instead of expecting church to match our heart, Jesus suggests putting our money into a church that is trying to match God's heart. In so doing, our fickle shallow hearts will move toward God's heart. We will care less about matching demographics or musical style, and will support and grow a church that looks and sounds more like the beautiful, diverse, just community God desires.
As we enter stewardship season, I ask us all to pray. Pray for God to reveal what God wants for our community, and this church. Pray to see God's diversity and spirit and energy and love. Let's put our monies there, and see our hearts move there also.