Be Helpful? Be Hospitable! (With Chili, Too.)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, December 13, 2014

people diverse fellowship in the church

Be Helpful? Be Hospitable! (With Chili, Too.)

I enjoy being helpful. Yes, that’s one of my spiritual gifts. That’s what this blog is all about! But, today I also had the opportunity to be hospitable, too.

I took the opportunity to host a holiday open house at the church this afternoon. It was a chance to have a little more relaxed time with people in the congregation, and for me to bring a few things to the church. Like cookies. And chili.

It’s funny. I’ve been using the same chili recipe every time (your basic chili, from Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, minus the bay leaf). I did use three different kinds of beans—red kidney, black beans, and white Northern beans. But other than that, it always turns out just a little bit different. Not bad different, but just different different. I wonder why that is?

I suppose I could make that a metaphor for life. Or, more specifically, for the Christian life. The walk with God. I use the same basic recipe. I put in the same ingredients. And somehow, things change. Usually, just a little bit. But, my recipe—my day by day life—changes incrementally. Usually in very small ways, but it keeps on changing.

If I consider the verse for December, from Ephesians 2:10, I have the same basic ingredients in my Christian life; the same ingredients and same basic recipe for the human condition. Yet, I have the opportunity to do marvelous things. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” Yes, I am God’s handiwork. Another translation says “God’s masterpiece.” God made these ingredients and put them together in the same basic recipe. And, I have the chance to take these God-given ingredients and put them together in a useful way. A tasty way. A winsome way.

It’s good to be hospitable, to offer what I have and what I am to the congregation. Yes, I prepared food. (I think most people enjoyed what I brought, too.) I also took the opportunity to play Christmas carols this evening, and everyone sang. It didn’t matter that we didn’t sound like a wonderful choir. No, that didn’t matter to us. Instead, we sang carols to the glory of God. (Also for our enjoyment!)

All in all, a good day. Thank You, God!

@chaplaineliza

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Kindness, Pointed Inward. Service, Pointed Out.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, July 22, 2014

silhouette crucifix and stars

Kindness, Pointed Inward. Service, Pointed Out.

I spent the first half of the day in Pennsylvania, at the mission conference I’ve attended for a number of years. While there (even for so short a time), I had a number of significant experiences, conversations, and “divine appointments.” However, one of the most significant parts of today happened at one of the sessions. The first speaker of the morning (Russell Smith) spoke on several things this morning, but one piece of his session impressed itself upon my heart with particular depth.

Russ used two Scripture references to illustrate this point. His first (which he will expand tomorrow—when I won’t be there . . . <sob!>) was from Psalm 139. Each of us is created an individual. God made each of us, and designed us while we were inside of our mother’s bodies. God knew every facet of each one of us. And, God created each of us the way we are for a reason. (That’s the A-part of what Russ said.) The B-part, the second Scripture verse Russ referred to, was Ephesians 2:10. Each of us—each individual—is God’s masterpiece. We will not become a masterpiece at some future point in time, but God created each of us as a masterpiece already, in Christ Jesus. God designed each individual for God’s purposes, and God created good works for us to do—so each of us has a job (or work, or things to do), prepared for us beforehand.

Yes, I knew all this already. Ephesians 2:10 is and has been so precious to me! But have you ever known something already, even known it by heart, or from the time you were very small, or have been through it a hundred times before . . . and all of a sudden, it’s presented to you once again. Strangely enough, this time, the same-old, same-old words come across in a profound way.

That’s what happened to me. These words knocked my socks off. Moreover, I had the distinct feeling these words, this teaching, was for me. Not for anyone else, today. I can clutch it tight to my chest, like a small child holds a beloved, treasured stuffed animal in its arms.

Later in the morning, I had the unexpected opportunity to turn outward. To be of service. To listen to a grandparent tell about their grandchild who is seriously ill. A continuing difficulty. I happened to be in the right place at the right time. What an awesome thing that I was there, to listen, with my less-anxious presence. I could tell this grandparent was concerned about the grandchild, so far away. And—I have been trained for just such an eventuality.

This second happening was also from God, intended for someone else. God provided a sympathetic ear and an understanding heart. (At least, I hope I was sympathetic and understanding!)

I thank God for new opportunities to serve. To be kind. And especially, for when people are kind to me.

@chaplaineliza

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