Humanity is my business.
Every year at Christmastide, I begin the annual ritual of end-of-year donations. This yearly tradition began when I was briefly unemployed. Faced with a much-reduced income, I wondered if I should continue donations that year. After much careful thought, I decided that I would continue to donate each year, no matter my income, but let the amount rise and fall as my income increased or decreased. Since I could no longer make donations to every charity when they sent a request, I would set aside a sum each year, and in the spirit of the Christmas season, I would divide the money between various charities. I would, in short, begin the habit of the annual tithe.
This yearly practice has few rules. I divide the money between local, national, and international charities and relief groups. The charities should be well regarded and score well on objective measures of effectiveness. Beyond that, there are personal interests and cares. The arts, animal welfare, the environment, education, homelessness, hunger, refugees, reproductive freedom, human rights, disaster relief…each year, the pool of possible charities grows ever larger. The money, alas, does not.
I spend several days reading through pamphlets, websites, and online scorecards, examining the issues or causes that have arisen in the last year, and then I begin the process of divvying up the pool. A yearly pledge amount or an ongoing monthly donation, each must be measured against need and available funds.
This business complete, I settle down to watch “A Christmas Carol.” I strive to keep the words of the ghost of Christmas Future inscribed in my heart for another year: Humanity “…was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, benevolence, were all my business.”*
I invite you, dear friends, as we conclude this Christmastide, to consider taking up the act of tithing. Give your time and treasure to the causes and cares that are near and dear to your heart. I invite you to remember Grace Cathedral, Episcopal Community Services, and all our local and national institutions in your yearly pledges and giving. Finally, I invite you to keep the spirit of Christmas throughout the year. The hungry need food all year; the homeless need shelter all year; war and famine are with us all year. To do what we can, when we can, this is our business.
May you and yours have a happy New Year, and may God bless us, everyone!
*Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol”