It was a great Christmas, wasn’t it? Around here though, maybe like your place, there is a bit of unfinished business. I look after your spiritual well-being first and foremost, but I also keep an eye on the material circumstances of the parish, so I have to let you know that while Christmas grace and joy abounded during the last weeks of December, we took a pretty big hit materially.
The huge snow the weekend before Christmas prevented many folks from making it to Mass. Our offertory that week was about one-third of what it usually is on a Sunday. We had great crowds at Christmas, of course, but a weak showing the weekend after (was everyone sick, or away?) again shrank the offertory.
All that beautiful snow had to be cleared, and it was thoroughly done, so that we had good access to the church all through the weekend of the snow, and the parking lots were completely clear heading into Christmas. But it cost us $14,700 for just that one record storm, which exceeded our snow-removal budget for the whole year.
Two poor weekends AND a rich snow-removal bill lead me to ask you to check and see whether you might have missed some of your offerings to God in our parish last month – or anytime this past year. If so, we could sure use them now!
The turn of the calendar year is always a good time to make sure things are caught up. A number of folks very conscientiously have checked to see if they had met their commitment, and already sent year-end checks. Others have been so full of joy at Christmas that they gave something extra in gratitude. I rejoice at this fidelity, and am inspired by it to make sure I keep up my own giving.
But if you have not already done that, I ask you, please, do so soon. We have not yet closed the books on 2009, and would be happy to accept whatever additional participation you care to contribute. Later on, we will be sending out to all contributors a statement of their offerings during 2009 for your use on your tax returns.
One of the things that has really come to help with situations like this is Faith Direct, the electronic giving program that over 130 of our families have found very useful – more than a quarter of our regular givers. In coming days, you’ll be receiving a letter from me encouraging you to consider enrolling.
For all of you who participated so graciously in our November offertory commitment renewal, I humbly remind you that your new commitment began with the turn of the new year. If you are already participating in Faith Direct, you will get a letter reminding you to adjust your donation schedule to reflect your commitment.
I know that January is the month when the bills come for everyone. But please don’t allow the weather or the exigencies of the holiday distract you from your offertory commitment, which is an aspect of your relationship with the Lord in this parish community.
There is so much joy in Christmas, and such great grace in this parish, that most folks are happy to do what it takes to make it all happen. May your love for one another and for the Lord Jesus who dwells among us continue to bring you grace upon grace.