Thinking About Gifts, and About Service (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, November 15, 2015

Stewardship. How can I be a steward of what I have? How can we be good stewards of what God has given to us? I’m not just thinking about money. Our treasure. I’m thinking about time and talents, too. What’s more, I’m thinking of thanks. Gratitude. God has given me a lot! I’m thinking about the time, talents and treasure God has abundantly blessed me with. God has blessed all of us, too. I am so grateful to God. Thank You, Lord.

Thinking About Gifts, and About Service

autumn road with leaves

Stewardship. Not a common word, for sure! Most people probably never even think of it. Or, at most, it might come to mind for certain folks at this time of the year. In connection with charitable giving.

Yes, that was how I used it, yesterday. In my sermon on being a good steward. Actually, I stretch the truth slightly. My sermon was not about stewardship. Instead, my focus was on taking stock, as in Psalm 90:12. The psalmist calls us all to “number our days.” So, I mentioned the end of the year, gathering in the harvest, taking an inventory. And with that as my springboard, I took a leap into my first stewardship sermon. Talking about being good stewards not only of our money, but also of our time, talents, health and relationships.

I prayed for my children today, as well as my friend’s children. (I am using the book The Power of a Praying Parent.) I prayed that each child might discover that unique gift or set of gifts that God has given to each of them. And again, I was reminded vividly of the verse for November: 1 Peter 4:10 “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.”

Sure, it’s one thing, to ooh and aah over a child’s budding attempts at a gift. Like, for example, a painting brought home from school. Or playing an instrument at a youthful band recital. Or being instrumental in winning the contest at a junior high sporting event. Budding gifts like that are easier to receive, and easier to display. But what about those whose gifts are more hidden? Or people who are more shy, or even more bruised, as a result of things out of their control?

This is a prayer anyone can pray. We all need to follow God more nearly, more dearly. It is my responsibility to pray for small (and not so small) children. And young people. And middle-aged and older people.

I encourage everyone reading: pray for others. And don’t forget yourself! You are a trusted, gifted child of God, too. We all need to serve with whatever God has given to each of us. May it be so, God!

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Be Thankful? Be Grateful? Be Helpful!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, November 23, 2014

THANKS filled with both thanks and giving

Be Thankful? Be Grateful? Be Helpful!

Thanksgiving! Yes, that was the focus of the Sunday morning worship service at our church today.

Giving thanks was an important part of the service. For a scripture passage this morning, I used the readings for Thanksgiving, instead of this particular Sunday, Christ the King Sunday. Yes, it was the last Sunday of the liturgical year. True! However, I had a strong feeling to preach from the Thanksgiving Gospel reading today. From Luke 17, the narrative of the Ten Lepers.

Sure, this particular reading could be viewed from any one of a number of ways. However, I took the view of thankfulness. Ten lepers asked for pity. Mercy. Healing. And—only one returned to give thanks. (The ex-leper was even a Samaritan, not a Jew.)

Yes, I did bring up the other nine ex-lepers, briefly. But, I did not allow us to get bogged down in what might have been, or what flights of imagination easily could have come up with. It also might have devolved into, “Coulda, woulda, shoulda.” I did not want that to happen.

Instead, I discussed the one ex-leper who did come back. As soon as he noticed his healing, he came back to the Rabbi Jesus, like a shot. Thanked Jesus! Praised God! And—Jesus commended him, even though he was a Samaritan. (Gee, he must have been doubly marginalized, being a leper and a Samaritan.)

I lifted this thankful, grateful ex-leper up as an example for all those in the congregation. I asked, “What are you—any of you—thankful for? Grateful for? I gave a few examples from the church’s life, and then went out into the congregation. Asked for personal examples. Personal incidents. Testimonies! We certainly shared some significant situations today. We all saw how much God was continuing to bless, and give God’s gifts to one and all. We all saw how great God’s love is toward us.

So—are we thankful, today? How about grateful? God opens doors too numerous for me to even imagine. We can be grateful and thankful for so much. One last way? We can help each other, too. That can show others how much we feel, too. How about you?

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.