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Will you Remember your church when you depart?

As Orthodox Christians we see the world as God’s gift, as a sacrament of His presence and a means of communion with Him; thus, we are able to offer back to God in gratitude as we hear in every Divine Liturgy: Thine own of Thine own, we offer unto thee, on behalf of all and for all.  We can achieve every reasonable objective by making the spiritual investment in our Church that is required of us by God, remembering that every good and perfect gift comes from above.

Each of us is given three gifts from God that are to be gifted BACK to God.  Those gifts are: time, talents and treasure.

Our first gift from God is the Time we spend here on earth.  Time is an expensive commodity in our culture.  However, we are blessed with many individuals who incorporate their Church life into their everyday life.  They live with God ever before and beside them; thus, the phrase with God ALL things are possible often becomes a reality for us.  Just when we think something cannot be completed because of time, one of us steps forward and finds the time to offer assistance.

Our second gift from God is Talents.  In our community, our talents are many.  Our talents make us who and what we are in terms of personality, skills and interests.  We should use our talents for the work of God just as we use them in our daily lives.  In our community we have individuals who offer to cook lunches, dinners, cater for our community events as well as outside events, and make food for people when they are ill.  In our community we have individuals that fix things: lights when they’re broken, plumbing when something doesn’t work, painting when it’s needed, tiling floors when needed, sound systems when they break.  In our community we have individuals who clean our Church, sing during our services, do Epistle readings during our services, serve in the Sanctuary and help with greeting people to our services.  In our community we have individuals who visit the sick, pray for each other and offer to help each other.  In our community we have individuals who instruct our youngsters in our Faith and our culture.  In our community we have individuals who serve on our Board, serve on various committees, serve in outreach to our community and offer guidance to us.  In our community we are always looking for ways we can serve and offer assistance to each other and to our community.

Our third gift from God is Treasure (money, land, stocks, bonds, art work, other valuable objects).  By the partial list, a person can see that these are items which are truly gifts from God.  We only have them or acquire them due to God’s assistance. Perhaps we think we have them through our own hard work, however, this can only happen if God has given us good health so that we might work.  We might think we have assets because we were clever in our choice of worldly work.  However, this could only have happened if God gave us a brain with which to understand and work.  We might think we have acquired a home through our own efforts. Again, this could only have happened if God allowed us to have a job with which we were able to save enough money to purchase the home.  It is easy to see that all comes from above nothing comes from below.

How do we show our appreciation to Our God for what He has given us?

How do we show our gratitude to Our God for what He has given us?

How do we glorify Our God for what He has given us?

The answer is simple.  We offer back to God a portion of the worldly goods He has bestowed upon us.  In Fair Oaks, those of us who have money, offer money to maintain our Church and our cultural hall.  If we have real estate holdings, then we might wish to consider offering them to the Church either during our lifetime, or upon our Falling Asleep in the Lord.  If we have a work of art, we might wish to donate it to our Church so that it could be sold for the benefit of our Church.  Whatever we have acquired and whatever we offer back to God should be done only with pure love. Be a cheerful giver.Be a quiet giver.Be a consistent giver.  Be a loving giver.  All comes from above.  There is nothing that God needs.  The only thing God wants is for us to love Him.What better way to show our complete love than to offer some monetary item that will allow our Church doors to remain open?

The National Serbian Orthodox Church feels so strongly about giving that she has established the month of November as stewardship month throughout the Serbian Orthodox Church in the United States of America and Canada.  Every November, each of us in the Serbian Orthodox Church searches our heart and soul.  Then we open our wallets.We pour out the earnings to Our God that he has given to us to make our lives easier.  As we search our hearts and our souls this coming November, may our donations show Our God that we are grateful for His gifts to us.  He has given us so much.  Whatever we offer back to Him will be paltry in scope.

For those who wish to renew their pledges for the year, it is not too late to do so.  For those who have never considered pledging their support before, it is not too late to do so.  For those who would like to increase their pledges, it is not too late to do so.For those who would like to make a bequest to our Church, it is not too late to do so.

Anyone who wishes to know how to donate any type of asset to Our Church is invited to contact our Priest, our President or our Treasurer.  Any conversations will be held in the strictest confidence.

“The earth is the Lord’s”

More of our people are understanding their obligations as adopted sons and daughters of God, and what it means to be joined to the Body of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

We are realizing that we must account for the time, the gifts of money, and abilities which God has entrusted to us during the time we have to live on earth.  All that is given to us is for a short duration; we are to utilize all our possessions to increase and to build up the Kingdom of God which is entering this world.

In gratitude for God’s blessings and for His adopting us as family members of His Kingdom, it naturally follows that we joyfully return an abundant portion of our monetary treasures, our time, and our capabilities to Him, for His service through the Holy Church.

Offerings are the same for many years, one dollar or so, and people think to give no more than the bare minimum for “church dues,” and none of their time and talents.  This indicates that people are not yet awakening to realize what their duty before God is and His Holy Church.  The same people still just look over their shoulders to find somebody else who will take the responsibility -but not them.  We have to accept responsibilities as faithful people and accept God’s challenges to each person baptized into the Body of Christ.

Just as we are brought one by one to the baptismal water to put on Christ, so we shall be brought one by one before Almighty God to answer for our own lives, so that we personally will be called to justify our having been given gifts of health, wealth, and talents to use in this world.

We believe that the true member of the Holy Church may find a way to include his estate, or worldly possessions, in continuing his responsibility before the Lord.

Don’t assume a will is important only for wealthy people with huge estates.  Many of our people mistakenly imagine only those with great gifts to offer should include the Church in their will.  The story our Lord told of the poor widow whose two pennies were worth more than the rich man’s thousands, because that was all she possessed, should remind us that God blesses all gifts when they come from a thankful, generous heart.

A WILL helps us to show our gratitude and love for God after we are gone.  Just as we want to be remembered by our relatives and dear ones, so we want to be remembered by the Holy Church.   A wise person will draw up a will, because that is the most businesslike and effective way to be remembered by the Church.

“For those who bring fruit and do good in this Temple..”

With the above words, we remember the persons who offered their gifts to God in With the above words, we remember the persons who offered their gifts to God in the litany that is proclaimed at every service, whether Divine Liturgy, Vespers or Matins.

The parish is where you build up friendships over a lifetime, with those who pray and commune from the same chalice, at the same blessed altar. This is the church to which we come with our sorrows and worries, our happy experiences, and joyful thoughts, Sunday after Sunday.

SOME THOUGHTS YOU MAY CONSIDER…

You should find out from your attorney ways in which you may gain the greatest possible tax benefits.

Life insurance policies can be utilized to contribute to the church after your passing away.

Your will, of course, has nothing to do with your income while you are alive, and an Orthodox Christian should eliminate all unchristian superstitions attached to planning for the time we are no longer on this earth.

You may make your gift to the Church in the form of a percentage of your estate, money, securities, stocks, bonds, or life insurances policies.

This way you are planning for the future, FOR ETERNITY…

For more information consult with your priest as you plan your future gift to God.

May God grant eternal life to each of us.

Please consider making a gift today.

You may be standing before God tomorrow.