Thanksgiving should sting.

It is not often that I am irritated with my daily SacredSpace facetime.  Today is one such day:

“Jesus looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on. Luke 21:1-4

“Some thoughts on today’s scripture:  Generosity is all relative, of course.  Solomon prayed: Keep me from sacrifices that cost me nothing.  Teach me true large-heartedness like that of the poor widow, a generosity that gives in secret, left hand not knowing what right hand is doing, and that gives until it hurts.  Lord it does not matter what others see of my actions or neglect. You see into my heart and know my generosity or selfishness.  Save me, Lord, from sacrifices that cost me nothing.  True generosity is not so much giving what I can easily spare as giving what I can’t easily do without.” http://www.sacredspace.ie/daily-prayer/2014-11-24

I wonder why offering a “gift” to God is almost always written about as a physical thing and preferably hard cash.  I wonder why so often we “sacrifice” something which “hurts”. I wonder why we focus on pain rather than joy. On paying our way rather than relationship.  On penance rather than delight.

I wonder whether we “get” God Soft Hands Jesus a lot less often than we like to think we do.

When Jesus did what He did – when He showed us the full breadth and depth – the full scale of highs and lows – the pallet of colours far too subtle for our eyesight – why do we so often focus on just one element? Hand in pocket, hand in plate, job done.

Have we really left the “temple sacrifice industry” behind?

Or do we prefer to keep the embers aglow – hedging our bets as usual.  Giving from the wallet – in case we are not giving enough from the heart. Much as we pay for so many things. Much as we are taught to do by good Christians:

The etiquette … a little sacrifice is good for the soul.
The envelope … are you sacrificing enough (preferably within our for weekly giving scheme – and consider writing us into your will – that could be useful – if you know what we mean).
The expectation … you must and should – if you are serious about your faith.

My question is this: Serious about what exactly?

Because isn’t our daily or weekly or annual “sacrifice” so often embroidered with “etiquette, envelope, and expectation”. And isn’t someone – always – counting.

And just how easy is that to become just another club rule? That “you cannot be a member unless you support us financially …” implicit and explicit.

>>> and as I typed those words … an involuntary memory: a church council meeting where that phrase (almost) was said – and which in that setting seemed perfectly reasonable.

If you want to be a member you have to pay your dues – those are the rules – and (as a good christian knows) if it doesn’t sting a little, we would say that you are not giving enough.

Thanks. Giving.

Why does “making it sting a little” make it so much more sincere?