Thinking About Gifts, and About Service (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, November 17, 2017

In the waning of the year, I get introspective. Not only about the harvest, but also the closing down of nature’s bounty. November, with its blustery weather blowing leaves from trees, and the cold snaps and freezes causing the ground to harden, is a challenging month to like. (Unless you are one of my daughters, who has a birthday in November. Today, in fact.) As I re-read this blog post, I saw several other things to be thankful for. See whether you might agree.

Thinking About Gifts, and About Service (#BestOf)

winter sunrise Evanston lakefront January 2015 - credit Joe Agnew

Posted on November 18, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, November 17, 2014

Thinking About Gifts, and About Service

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 blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a meditation journey through Pentecost and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

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!)

Helping? Going to the YMCA.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, December 27, 2014

We are His workmanship Eph 2-10

Helping? Going to the YMCA.

I have gone to our local YMCA almost every Saturday morning this year. Mostly for yoga class, but occasionally to power walk and jog on the upstairs track. And today—to encourage my husband, who has decided to join the YMCA as a member.

Yes, I did go to yoga today. And yes, class was absolutely marvelous, thanks to my wonderful teacher Ine! We did most of the usual poses and stretching, true. And, I’ve occasionally waxed eloquent about Ine and her kind, encouraging manner of teaching and leading the yoga classes. I do wish her the best in 2015! (as well as the other regulars in my yoga classes)

My husband and I needed to go out to get some gym shoes today, after yoga. (He needs gym shoes if he means to go to the gym.) So, this afternoon, outfitted in his new gym shoes, he and I headed back to the Y for a workout.

I reflected on this, both before and after going to the gym. What better thing to do for ourselves, than to continue being physically active? In terms of heart health, lowering blood pressure, obesity control, bone density, balance, and a whole host of other issues, it makes a whole lot of sense. Good sense.

As I continued to reflect—as sometimes happens—I thought about the spiritual angle. God is pleased when we take care of our physical bodies, too. I mean, when we eat sensibly, exercise regularly, and take care of the gifts God has given to us. Because, that is exactly what our bodies are. Or, to use a different metaphor (a Pauline metaphor), our bodies are God’s temple. Since the Holy Spirit resides within, I am responsible to care for my body as a good steward. I don’t often think of that.

Finally, I remember my verse for December – Ephesians 2:10. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Another word for “handiwork” is “masterpiece” or poema. That’s the same word where “poem” comes from. God has composed each of us, individually. What’s more, God means for me to do good works, or good things. To be helpful, kind, and of service. Not only outwardly, but inwardly, as well.

So, yes. A whole host of reasons to be a good steward of my own body. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2015. As my husband and I go to the gym on a regular basis in 2015, we can’t help but be healthier.

@chaplaineliza

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

Who, Me? Serve?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, November 12, 2014

SERVE as each receives a gift, serve 1 Peter 4  10

Who, Me? Serve?

I’ve been doing this being-kind-thing pretty much daily now for more than ten months. This is the eleventh month, can you believe it? And still, in the morning, I occasionally wake up with the barely-formed intention, “Who, me? Serve? You’ve got to be kidding . . . “

And yet, I find myself in similar positions on a regular basis. I mean, helping positions. Ways of being kind. Situations where I naturally fall into ways to be of service. I mean, using my gifts. I am going to help officiate at a funeral service this weekend. And, I am using not only the gifts and graces I have been given and have developed in the past years, but I am also playing the piano. And, I am so, so happy to have been asked.

Here’s the verse I chose 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.”

I haven’t been playing the piano very much lately. I mean, in the past few months. I just haven’t been, that’s all. So, I really appreciate the relatives of the dear senior who died to ask whether I might be able to play. As well as officiate. Actually, co-officiate. My good friend and fellow pastor will be preaching, but I will be doing just about everything else.

Let me come back to playing the piano. I’ve been doing that for decades. Literally. Piano playing was one gift I had that was obvious to everyone, even as a teenager. I became one of the accompanists for the mixed chorus at my high school. I accompanied off and on, into my twenties. And then, I started to flex my leadership muscle in different ways. Branching out, not only playing the piano, but also leading songs. And music, generally. And teaching Sunday school.

My gifts and graces (just as Peter said, above) have been appreciated by so many. It’s wonderful to think of how many bible studies, Sunday school classes, small congregations, and other kinds of groups have benefitted from my service, over the years.

This coming weekend, my fellow pastor and I will lead in worship and witness to the Resurrection. Oh, and I had better practice a bit more on the piano. I want to do an especially excellent job. The dear senior well deserves the best of everything at the funeral service. God willing, I will be able to serve in this special way.

@chaplaineliza

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