Giving at QUC

The Nature of Giving as Disciples of Christ

Giving is not just about our finances, it is about who we follow (Christ), who we are (disciples) and what we offer/share (our gifts and talents). Giving is an essential part of our discipleship.

How can we each give in the life of Queanbeyan Uniting Church?


Church Council wants to acknowledge and thank all those who have given in so many ways, often over such a long time. 

We also take this opportunity to encourage everyone to prayerfully and intentionally review how we each give and how much we each give. We want to acknowledge that for some it may see an increase in what they give and for others who have experienced a reduced capacity it may see a decrease in what they are able to give.

Giving is far more than just what we financially give to the church, it’s not even based on how much the church does or doesn’t need. Giving is about a spirit of generosity, of sharing, of being community, of being a neighbour, it’s about being part of the actions of God within and beyond the church.   

Different approaches to financial giving 

When thinking about the giving of what we have, it’s important to note there are several approaches. Within some parts of scripture, especially the Old Testament, giving is thought of in terms of tithing, the tradition being 10% of income was to ‘go to God’. In many ways such an approach may serve as a reasonable guide. However, as followers of Christ how are we to view giving? 

Giving as disciples of Christ

As people who have committed ourselves to being disciples (followers) of Christ, we have committed everything - including our finances. A starting point may be to ask the questions: 

Such an approach, especially in an age of unprecedented greed and personal accumulation of wealth, can be very threatening and you may, like many of us find this approach rather confronting.

Giving - three key elements: 

The Churches Role

The Church (universal and local) has a role when it comes to people's giving. We must honour that which is given and the giver behind the giving. We must never act in a way that treats giving lightly, is taken for granted or is abused. 

A copy of our latest ‘Year to Date’ financial summary is available from our Treasurer by request. The annual budget and financial statements are presented each year at a Congregation meeting by the Treasurer.

Making a Donation/Giving

Your generous giving helps us maintain our vision and mission – locally, nationally and internationally.

There are a number of ways you can regularly give and/or make a once-off donation to our church.

‘Bennie’s Basket’ Food Pantry

Congregation members are invited to bring along a grocery item or two each week to be placed in a basket to support Bennie's. More info

Sermon - Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Dr. John Squires - 4th August 2019

Hosea 11:1-11 & Luke 12:13-21 

“The land of a rich man produced abundantly.” So begins the parable set in this week’s Gospel reading (Luke 12:16). And the story which follows tells of abundance, investment, and increasing treasure. So, today, I want to reflect on abundance, investment, and treasure.

Of course, the current economic climate is hardly conducive to such a discussion. I currently have a mortgage, so I appreciate the lowering of interest rates of recent years. Some of you may be in a similar situation. But I suspect that others of you here today probably have investments, and find the regular announcements of a decrease in interest rates to be depressing. Diminishing returns for the same investment brings an uneasy feeling, no doubt.

And, I have some recent advice about matters economic ringing in my years. Late in July, the Moderator of the Uniting Church, Simon Hansford, spent a week visiting various congregations across the Presbytery. He had already been to Queanbeyan earlier this year, so we didn’t figure on his itinerary. But I was at a number of gatherings with the Moderator involving other Congregations in the Canberra area.

At one of these, Simon recounted to me the advice that, he says, he received from people here who know far more about economics than he did, or indeed that I do: “stick to preaching the Gospel, and leave the economics to others” was the advice that he received, from time to time, during his time here.

Well, that is all well and good. And I will not pretend to understand the complexities of national economic policy, or, indeed, of economics at any level in contemporary life. But here is my dilemma: precisely in focussing on the Gospel, we discover that the message of Jesus returns again, and again, to matters of economics. The call of the Gospel, in each narrative offered by the evangelists we call Mark, Matthew, and Luke, involves reference, over and over, to matters fiscal, financial, economic.

Indeed, the very passage that we find before us today, from Luke’s Gospel, contains clear economic advice. Yes, today, we have words from Jesus, offering us economic instruction! And, at first glance, the instructions seem to be about acquiring, accumulating, and admiring the growth of possessions.

“The land of a rich man produced abundantly”; so begins the story which Jesus tells. “And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’”

So there we have it: a parable, told by Jesus, reported by Luke, focussing squarely on matters economic. Build bigger barns, store more produce, accumulate more capital, generate more profit. All sound economic advice, one would think.

Actually, at this point, I should confess to being an amateur economist; and that advice all sounds reasonable to me. I have ringing in my ears the words of my own father, who spent his life as a chartered accountant, company secretary, financial advisor, and tax agent—steward your resources, accumulate finances carefully, monitor your spending, plan with prudence. Perhaps some of you here have received, or indeed given, such advice. I certainly know the patter very well!

So the rich man in the story which Jesus tells, seems to be acting wisely. He is prudent and careful, strategic in his planning, logical in his approach to life. As we listen to the story, we are drawn into agreeing with what is set out, in the style that we know is typical of Jesus in the parables he offers.

And yet, just at the point where we feel that all is settled, all is clear: Jesus turns the tables on us! This, also, is typical of the parables of Jesus; that moment when the expected ending is thrown into chaos, and a whole new, different understanding is set forth.

And so, we hear these words: “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

And just a few verses later on, Jesus utters the words which really encapsulate the ultimate point of this whole parable: “Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Today, I want to offer you three reflections this short parable.

First, I want to consider the interpretation that claims that the teaching of Jesus in this parable provides a word to the disciples, which instructs them to focus on matters spiritual, and turn away from material things.

On the face of things, this seems to make sense. The parable is a word addressed to “the spiritual”, to those whose focus is beyond this life, beyond this earth, into eternity, into heaven. The point of the parable is not to worry about physical, material things—our possessions, our homes, all our worldly goods.

The parable, it is claimed, instructs us to focus on the spiritual realm, to be oriented to the eternal goal of heaven. It warns us against being the kind of people who “store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

Is Jesus vindicating the claim that we should worry nothing at all about tangible, material, earthly things? That our focus is to be entirely on spiritual matters, eternal truths, heavenly rewards? Was Jesus instructing is not to be concern d about matters financial?

That is certainly the flavour of the message proclaimed by a number of high-profile preachers in our own times. The Gospel, so they say, is about our eternal destiny, not about life in the here and now. What we do in the here and now is of less importance—some would say, even of no ultimate importance—except that it prepares us for the life that is promised beyond this earthly life.

And the verses which follow after this parable, in the rest of Luke 12, seem, at first glance, to support such an interpretation. “Do not worry about your life … life is more than food, the body is more than clothing … consider the lilies … do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink”.

However, I don’t buy that line of interpretation. It does not sit with what I read about Jesus, when I turn elsewhere in the Gospels in our scriptures. The teachings of Jesus return, again and again, to the present time, to the material world, to our human relationships and the interactions that we engage in, and to the responsibilities we have in this life, on this earth, to live in accord with the way of Jesus. He values the present. He values this life, this earth. It is, after all, the good creation of God, the world which God made, and saw that it was “very good”, according to the very first story in Genesis.

Many of the parables of Jesus describe the promise of the kingdom of God. “The kingdom of God is like … a mustard seed … some treasure hidden in a field … a net thrown into the sea … some seed scattered on the ground … a master of a household … a landowners seeking labourers …”. These are familiar stories, with well-known lessons. Such parables inevitably use people and items from ordinary, everyday life, to describe the coming kingdom.

And yet, Jesus insists that this kingdom is not just a future hope; it is a present reality. “The kingdom is in your midst”, he informs his disciples. As he heals people, so “the kingdom of God has come near”. Since the time of John the baptiser, “the Good News of the kingdom of God is proclaimed”, and the kingdom is a present reality. Indeed, Jesus instructs his disciples that they are to “strive for the kingdom of God”, and to pray, “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven”. It could not be clearer.

So, the teaching of Jesus in this parable is not about the future time or the heavenly place. It contains guidance and instruction for the present moment, here on this earth. The parable invites is to be clear about our priorities. We are not to become fixated on the things that stand in between us, and God.

Second, the teaching of Jesus in this parable provides a very clear word to “the rich”.

This short story is but one of many parables attributed to Jesus, which feature a wealthy or powerful or high status figure as the key character.

In the parables of Jesus which are found only in Luke’s Gospel, we meet a variety of upper-class people: after this rich man who built larger barns for his produce (12:13– 21), there comes a man with resources to build a tower (14:28–30), a king at war (14:31–32), a rich father of two sons (15:11–32), a steward of a wealthy man (16:1–13), a rich man who dressed in purple and feasted daily (16:19–31), a farmer with slaves (17:7–10), and a judge (18:1–8).

There are many other indications throughout the Gospel of Luke, and the following volume, the Acts of the Apostles, that such high-status people of power and means are in view as Luke writes his narrative. Indeed, in the Acts of the Apostles, there are regular reports that various high-status, wealthy, powerful individuals received the Gospel and became followers of Jesus: “devout women of high standing” in Antioch (Acts 13:50), “not a few leading women” in Thessalonica (17:4), “not a few Greek women of high standing” in Beroea (17:12), and Damaris in Athens (17:34), along with Cornelius in Caesarea (10:24, 48; 11:12), Lydia in Philippi (16:14–15), Titius Justus in Corinth (18:7), Tyrannus in Ephesus (19:9), Philip in Caesarea (21:8, 10), and Mnason in a village near Jerusalem (21:16).

Alongside this, we also know that for Luke, the ministry of Jesus is characterized by “preaching good news” to the poor (4:18; 7:22). In his preaching, Jesus reassures the poor, “yours is the kingdom of God” (6:22), and promises the hungry, “you will be filled” (6:23). He contrasts this with the punishments due to the selfish rich and powerful who do not share their blessings (6:24-26). And all of this is to occur in the here and now.

The poor (those who are desperate, with no home and no regular source of income—and no social security net, such as we know today) are very prominent throughout Luke’s Gospel. They are the ones who benefit from the message preached by Jesus: “he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor” (4:18).

So this Gospel, especially, provides regular reminders to the rich, that they are responsible to share what they have with the poor.

Who are the rich, today, in our time? We in the Western world are amongst the most wealthy, and most powerful, people on the planet today. The individuals in the Gospel of Luke that we might most easily identify with are those rich men, governors, household owners, wealthy farmers, and educated men and women we have noted above. And, like them, we would do well to follow the example of making our wealth available to the poor and needy, in obedience to the instructions of Jesus.

Whatever indicator of wealth that you measure in today’s world, the population of Australia inevitably comes out as being wealthy, relative to the vast majority of people on this planet. Adult Australians have the highest median wealth in the world, at $233,504 per person. 58% of Australians own property, higher than the world average of 45%. The average Australian income of around $81,000 per year places us in the top 0.2% of income earners around the world. One online calculator that I tried reported to me that, even with my minister’s income, I am richer than 99.85% of the total population of the world.

And, because Australia is, relatively, an affluent country, most of us are fortunate enough to live comfortably or even luxuriously by world standards. Yet there is a flip side to this; for instance, our over-consumption is shown in the 64 million tonnes of rubbish we throw out every year, burying mountains of good food, clothing and electronics in landfill as we pursue the latest fashions and false dreams. And our planet is groaning because of this; we cannot afford to continue such an extravagant lifestyle. We need to work towards a way of living that is more responsible towards the creation, that is more accountable in terms of what we use, what we need, what we throw away.

So the word which this parable of Jesus offers to us, the rich, today, is clear and simple: with all the benefits and advantages that we enjoy in our lives, we are not to continue the style of life that simply yearns for more, that accumulates more, that builds bigger barns, all for ourselves. The overall Gospel message of Jesus is clear: we are responsible to share what we have with others.

Third, the teaching of Jesus in this parable provides a word to his faithful disciples. It is a word which reminds us that we need to be clear about our priorities. It is a parable that warns us against a lifestyle in which we “store up treasures for ourselves”. It is a teaching which instructs us to work so that we become “rich toward God”. It is a teaching about valuing God first and foremost in our lives of faith.

This is the point in the parable which, I belief, most directly addresses each of us, today, within this Congregation. What is it that we need to do, in order to build a community of faith which is “rich towards God”? How might we best demonstrate, in our common life together as a Congregation, that we have a clear set of priorities which align directly with the teachings of Jesus about the kingdom of God?

I have valued opportunities to work with people within this congregation, to look back over years of faithful service and committed witness within the city of Queanbeyan. I have appreciated learning of the playgroups for young families and youth groups for people at the critical stage of exploring what shape their lives might take. I have learnt of the volunteers who offer time to ensure that people without a home have a safe place of shelter at night, and others who prepare and serve meals at St Benedict’s.

I know there is much effort devoted to The Jumble and The Shed, as services to the wider community of Queanbeyan. All of this, and more, ensures that we live up to our vision of being a Good Neighbour Church, offering support and assistance to people in need, building relationships with our neighbours. And that is an important set of priorities for us to have to the fore.

There is clearly a sense that, over the years, the Queanbeyan Uniting Church has sought to be “rich towards God”.

I know also that, alongside the fostering of relationships with our neighbours, we need to be finding ways to tell the story of our faith, to share the good news with others, in ways that interest them, invite them, and engage them wholeheartedly with the faith that we share. So it is important to set our priorities as a congregation, to ensure that we live out the Gospel and tell out the Gospel in all we do.

We have said that we want to be a Good News Church. Living that good news means living in respectful relationship with one another, valuing the contribution that each person makes, honouring the variety of expressions of faith in our midst, sharing our faith sensitively, with integrity and clarity, and seeking out ways to deepen our relationships with one another.

Living that good news also means being clear, in our own minds, as to the faith that we hold. So, learning more, reading the Bible for ourselves, sharing in study groups, praying for others, are all means towards that end. We need to foster our own spiritual lives, as well as ensure that we reach out in relationships with others.

And, at this point, in considering the Good News which we hold, I want to refer to the words which we have heard today, from eight centuries before the time of Jesus. The prophet Hosea proclaims words from the God of the people of Israel, the same God who was worshipped in the time of Jesus, which set forth with dazzling clarity, the grace of God which underpins the Good News that we know in the Gospel.

This God of Israel, the God who called Hosea to know him, the God who inspired Hosea to speak, is a God whose righteous demands for justice—echoed in the parable which Jesus told about the rich man—these righteous demands are grounded in the covenant love that God has for the people of God.

Eight centuries before Jesus, the people of Israel were being told of the grace of God: the God who loved his people, who called them out of slavery, who taught that people to walk, who took them up in his arms, who led them with cords of kindness and bands of love. The God who dealt with the rebelliousness of the children of Israel by declaring, “I will not execute my fierce anger. I will not again destroy you. I will not come in wrath. My compassion grows warm and tender.”

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” In order for the lands of this group of rich people to flourish and be abundant, we need to set our priorities clearly in the direction that Jesus indicates. We need to hold before us the vision of God offered by Hosea, of constant love and persistent compassion.

We need to strive for the kingdom of God, where that love and compassion will be made evident in justice and righteousness, in all that we do. We need to seek to be “rich towards God”, in our own lives of faith, in our relationships with one another, in our reaching out to neighbours in our city. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”