We submitted our pledge cards at church today, making our financial commitment for the year. We stepped to the altar and placed our cards of promise on a plate which was then offered, in the liturgy of the Mass, to God.
We are commanded by Scripture to give back to God ten percent of our “first fruits,” our income for the year. Some of us do not pay much attention to these commands, but put a few dollars in the plate as it comes down the pew. Some of us pledge a fraction of the ten percent, or what we think is appropriate after all of our expenses, needs and wants, are met. Some of us pledge ten percent. Some of us more than that.
A pledge is a promise, an intention of faith and fidelity. We pledge, or make vows, to one another in marriage, and the relationship between the Church and Christ is considered one of marriage, for Christ refers to himself as the bridegroom in Holy Scripture. The Church is his bride.
Our preacher spoke of these things today, saying that God wants much more from us than belief. God, like a loving spouse, wants a living, loving relationship with us. We do not come to church to mouth words and listen to empty phrases. We come to actively partake in God’s kiss.
God’s kiss! That got my attention, and I listened closely for the explanation. God is not an idea, our priest continued, but a living person who desires union with his beloved, his bride. He wants all of us. He wants even little me. He wants to fill us with himself in the bread and the wine. It is a Eucharistic kiss, a kiss between the bride, the Church, and the bridegroom, Jesus Christ.
So it is fitting that the Gospel today, the story of the Wedding in Cana, is about water turned to wine at a wedding feast. It is Christ’s first recorded miracle. It is the third epiphany that reveals Who He Is in this season of Epiphanytide, of manifestations.
And it was fitting for us to pledge our troth (truth, faith, as is said in our Sacrament of Holy Matrimony) to our bridegroom, to step to the altar and give him our promise. In a marriage we promise to love and to cherish, in sickness and in health. Just so, we as his bride, promised these things, to him and to one another as members of his body.
My husband and I have found that in our thirty years of marriage, pledging to the Church has been important. We have tried to be faithful with at least a ten percent offering, and I believe it is true that miracles happen when we are faithful. When we are steady. When we worship together weekly, and partake of God’s presence weekly. When we do the hard regular duty, honing our consciences with love’s demands, feeding on sermon and Scripture, worshiping in song and prayer and bread and wine, giving of our time to the Body of Christ as well as our means, in sacrifice. Sometimes it’s a struggle to be faithful to God, to family, to anything. Sometimes it’s a joy. But God is always there in the faithfulness, working his miracles.
We filled out our cards and processed with our brothers and sisters to God’s altar. Later, in the parish hall, we celebrated the arrival of our newest member of Christ’s body, Luisa, now two months old, with a shower of food and presents. But we were the ones showered… by the love of our bridegroom, ever faithful, to bring this new life among us.
We pledge our tithe, we are faithful, and God hears us for he is faithful too. Only now can he work his miracles among us, embracing us, kissing us.