The Congregation at Duke University Chapel


photo of Andrew

Next Monday, restaurant owners from around the Durham community will do something extraordinary.

They will tithe.

October 16 is Neighbors Feeding Neighbors Day at the Durham CROP Walk, and participating restaurants will donate 10% of their proceeds to hunger relief in Durham and around the world.

For some of us, giving the first fruits of our labor back to God and neighbor seems like the most ordinary thing in the world. For others, tithing to our community of faith is a novel idea, a habit we haven’t quite mastered, or maybe even a luxury in a season when we barely make enough to provide for our own families.

Our temptation is to make giving back to God something that is so automatic we forget why we do it, or to allow feelings of shame or embarrassment about our giving to separate us from God.

And that is what I find most extraordinary about the tithe local restaurants will offer next Monday. Their offering comes not out of a sense of habit or obligation, and isn’t driven by shame or fear of judgement.

Instead, I imagine that the generosity we see in Neighbors Feeding Neighbors comes from a belief in abundance, a conviction that by sharing what we can, there will be enough for all. We have all that we need to sustain our community—if only we can see it.

We see that abundance perfectly embodied in Jesus Christ, who took a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish offered by a young person, and made enough to feed 5,000. Scripture even tells us there were 12 baskets left over, an extraordinary abundance!

During this season of thinking about how we sustain our community at the Congregation, let’s begin our conversations about money from a place of abundance. Let us look to the example of our neighborhood restaurants who offer a tithe on what they make, not because they have to, but because they know there is an extraordinary abundance—enough for all to share.

Will you join me in doing an extraordinary thing: trusting so much in God’s extraordinary abundance that we tithe because there is enough to sustain our community, not just because we should?

If you can, eat out next Monday, and allow God to make an ordinary meal an occasion of extraordinary abundance, just as Jesus did on that beach in Galilee.

Grateful to share in God’s abundance with you,