Thinking Through Financial Freedom

I wrote about financial freedom the other day, but that post has been lost in the ether of one of the many computers on which I work day-to-day, so… Here we go again, for the first time; (no worries, this’ll be a short one)!

Lexi and I don’t make a whole lot of money. There! I said it. We are nowhere near poverty, but we often feel the need to be frugal. We have gotten so good at doing so that we haven’t spent even as much as the Lenten Compact allows. In this post, I wanted to update the reader about how that was going, but the problem is that little has changed. Lent is not supposed to be surprising I suppose, but we have only spent approximately $150 so far. For those counting, we should have spent around $250 if we were maxing out our budget. Now, mind you, the Lenten Compact is about sacrifice, so one would think we were doing well. However, I am struggling to find where I am sacrificing anything during this season so far, especially given the fact that I am still able to eat well and be satiated each day.

For one, Lexi and I have given up going out to eat because, really, that is where a lot of people would drop the majority of their money for food each week. Of course, we did make this decision in the planning phase and since we are so far under the cap, we would not feel guilty about going out to eat if the situation arose. Nevertheless, Lexi and I are attempting first and foremost to be cognizant of the sacrifices that we are being called to make, in addition to the later monetary sacrifices that we will make with our total food spending in mind (See Lenten Compact post for a further explanation).

No matter what the budget, though, Lexi and I have financial freedom. For instance, when the MacBook Air went on sale, we were able to purchase one (pretty much without blinking an eye). When we are tired and hungry, we (normally) would simply order out without thinking. Even more so than that, we have the money to buy what I will call feel-good beverages”; those that have no other purpose than to make us feel good at the end of a long, stressful day, namely wine and beer. Hell, we can even buy all the equipment and supplies to brew our own! Who on the SNAP budget can say that? This is financial freedom. Being a beer snob, I have to call myself out on my own stinginess moving forward.

I think what I am trying to get that, though, is the purpose of Lent for me, which has become less about the sacrifice itself and more about the realizations those sacrifices put on my conscience: I am blessed and I need to act like it, especially in my future giving activities.

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The Challenges of 2020

TL;DR: Follow this link.

One of the craziest things about Christianity during the protests of the last few weeks is the fact that there are churches out there not discussing the issues honestly, not taking the time to have the hard conversations, not devoting their Sunday services to betterment of the world and people around them. If you’re church isn’t talking about racism right now, if they don’t mention that black lives matter, instead focusing on platitudes that equate to the all lives matter” sentiment, it is time to start looking for a new church.

My wife and I meet with my home” church virtually via Zoom since the pandemic is still a thing. Kimball Avenue United Church of Christ & La Iglesia Episcopal de Nuestra Señora de las Américas (KANSA, together) combined in a collaborative way to create a single denomination focused on the needs of their community. They follow Christ together toward the vision of love, reconciliation, peace and justice. The justice looks like the demolition and rehabilitation of an old church building and its grounds into a community garden and labyrinth open to all who seek peace through contemplation.

I give this elevator speech to mention that COVID has not been kind to faith communities in general. Budgets have been slashed, funding and grants have been cut, and congregations in need are also working to serve those in need, who are less likely to be able to financially support their church in these times. KANSA in one of the good ones. They speak truth, they have the difficult conversations, they preach in a loud voice every Sunday that black lives matter, that racism has no place in the church, that the LGBTQ community deserves respect and support, and that Jesus was a social justice warrior, who fought for the least of these no matter who they were, where they were from, what they looked like.

In fact, Jesus was most harsh to those who had the means to help and decided not to answer the call.

These systems of oppression we are protesting have been around a long time; they have screwed up a lot of lives, they have been the reason for revolution and the downfall of entire civilizations, they don’t work. We need to find a better way to live by supporting each other. And support has to come in systemic, social, financial, and political ways, both national and local.

I am not local to KANSA anymore, but I support their mission, the way that mission manifests in the world, and the simple fact that they follow Jesus no matter how ostracizing that position can be at times. Which brings me to the point:

Thanks to a $10,000 matching gift’ from an anonymous donor, the challenge has become an opportunity. Over the next two months, we plan to raise at least $10,000 to meet the challenge. Through August 31, 2020, every donation we receive toward our 2020 Challenge” no matter how small or how large will be doubled by the matching gift.

KANSA is hurting financially and needs support, they do good work and are unabashedly progressive in their approach to our world. Donate now and see your contribution matched to keep one of the good ones fighting the good fight.

Thank you for your consideration.