So I haven't tithed (which is giving money to the church) in a bit less than a year. Tithing for me is a given. Why? People generally put money into things they care about, whether a church or a cause. And tithing makes me less selfish and reminds me that my money and all things are a gift.
Anyway, I don't know about how giving money works with other people, but for me it's a barometer for how I feel about church (not God, just church). I tithe, and then I realize where my heart is. This morning I attended that reconciling church I've mentioned before and I tithed. My tithing often tells me where my heart is. This is why it's a barometer. I gave money at church and afterwards realized that some part of me, the part that gives money, knew my heart had already switched churches before the rest of me did. I didn't have any major thought when I tithed I just wanted to, but afterwards I thought, I want to support a place that helps me feel less fragmented and that I feel accepts and likes all of me.
In addition to this there are two reasons I felt at rest at church (instead of the tenseness I normally feel in church) and freed me up to connect with God.
1) I sat next to this really wonderful lesbian couple, and I felt at rest in a way I haven't felt in church in a long time. Afterwards I had coffee with the couple. They are civil unionized (how do you say that?), christian, and they just seem so mature and stable. They thanked me for reaching out to ask them for coffee and said I was delightful. It was helpful to talk with them. One of the women is also a pastors kid and told me her coming out story. Her parents are actually both pastors.
2) The church is affirming of me and is pretty scripture-centric. Some people may think conservative churches use more scripture and preach on things like temptation and sin and a church that welcomes gays and lesbians wouldn't. NOT TRUE! This morning sermon was on temptation and addictions. The scripture passage was on the temptation of Christ in the wilderness, and the word sin was in the sermon in talking about addictions in our lives. I wish I could find a better way to explain how this church holds all this. I'm going to have to think about it. But, I like that there's a value of all the things I have traditionally value (like scripture) and an acceptance of me and the fact that I'm gay too.