Godly Giving

 

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“…be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble…”  1 Peter 3:8

Someone knocked on my front door the other morning. I had been writing, and the sound broke my train of thought. So as I got up to answer, I let out a small  huff of annoyance. It was my neighbor from across the street, with a present for me.

Ellen was the first person to visit us when we moved into our house, bearing a little cake and a friendly welcome. Over the years, we’ve chatted on the sidewalk and dropped into each other’s homes. I’ve prayed with her about cares and concerns she was burdened by, and shared my own as well. And I’ve come to know how sweet and giving she is.

This day, she was bringing me porridge. We’d talked recently about how healthy quinoa is, and I’d commented that I didn’t like the taste. Well, Ellen had tried making a batch of breakfast cereal out of it, and decided to make extra for me. She excitedly told me about adding pumpkin spices and just a touch of maple syrup, hoping that would help me enjoy it more. My impatience vanished as I thanked her for the sample, and then we spent a few minutes catching up.

I could call what Ellen did ‘a nice little thing,’ and it certainly was. But it felt really special to me for a couple of reasons. It’s always nice to be thought of, for sure. But this was an intentional, planned gift specifically for me. She had  listened to what I’d said in that quick conversation, remembered it later, and taken action to respond at an opportune moment.

I have seen Ellen do this again and again in our neighborhood, and I’m certain she her reach goes beyond. She isn’t flashy or bold, but sincere, and that’s why it has impact. To me, Ellen has captured the essence of godly giving. And by the way, the porridge tasted great!

Christmas Program

 

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It’s that time of year again – our annual Christmas program is tonight, followed by a cookie reception. Can you really have enough cookies this (or any) season??

The production is a little smaller in scope than in other years. But the same excitement and passion has gone into the preparations for it. I have a bit part in the show, so I needed to sit through a few of the rehearsals to run my song. I was impressed by not only the efficiency of each practice, but by how generous everyone was.

What I mean is that there seemed to be a real sense of respect between all the people involved. It was clear that every role was considered important, from the directors to the cast to the crew. Whatever gift a person has had to contribute has been welcomed – each has added a vital element into the whole.

Watching this group of brothers and sisters reminded me of that verse from

1 Peter 4:10 that says, ”As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…” To me, the verse is a reminder that we all have talents and abilities, and all of them are needed. If we hold back from sharing them, we’re not taking care of something precious God has given us. We’re also withholding blessings from each other.

I so appreciate how people of different ages, giftings and, yes, even cookie preferences, can come together to create an offering of praise to God. Seeing that confirms how we truly are a family, and will make tonight even sweeter for all of us.