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!)

Take Inventory. Number our Days. Be of Service.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, November 15, 2014

Autumn leaves  New York Botanical Garden

Autumn leaves
New York Botanical Garden

Take Inventory. Number our Days. Be of Service.

November. The year is winding down. Autumn of the year. With harvest time and thanksgiving, the growing season coming to an end, this can also be a time for quiet, introspection, and contemplation.

I read Psalm 90 recently. This reading from Psalm 90, verse 12, spoke to my heart. It seems even more appropriate today, as I think about the autumn of one of our older friend’s lives. A dear man, this wonderful, gracious, gentle soul always had a kind word for everyone. Who was so often able to turn a tentative or tense situation into a humorous one with his sparkling sense of timing and humor. This dear senior certainly walked closely with God, in the autumn season of his life, and all through, too.

I will remind us all of verse 12: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” Practical advice, from this practical psalm. This psalm is the only psalm attributed to Moses, that great man of faith. Moses was a particularly nuts-and-bolts kind of guy, and it is fitting that the only psalm—or song—we have from him is an intensely practical one.

Ever have a bad day? A bad week? What about a bad year? Sometimes, that is what life brings our way. Sometimes, a bad day turns into an even worse season. Moses knew about times like that. Sure, Moses started life with a silver spoon in his mouth. Adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he had it made. For a while. Then, there was a change of direction. Talk about downward mobility. In Moses’ life, things did not go well—for years and years. And that was before he met God at the burning bush.

Yet, God was there.

God walked with him, right by his side, all the way. Through his difficult times, through the times when Moses felt he was all washed up. God did not leave him or forsake him.

What about today?

What about certain people you and I know, who find themselves at a difficult point in their lives? Health reversals. Unemployment. Loss of loved ones on whom we deeply depend. What happens then? Is God distant, or uncaring? There are some words in this psalm that could lead me to think so.

When I talk with individuals today, sometimes these people tell me about their rough times. How much of a challenge it is, even to get up out of bed in the morning. To continue, one more day, walking through chemotherapy. Sitting by a loved one’s side in an extended care center. Counting pennies, counting the days, waiting for that next unemployment check.

Remember, Moses was very practical, and I urge everyone to remember the words that reach out to others. As this psalm takes a final turn, we come across the words “Teach us to number our days.” Just as my dear senior friend did. Sometimes, in the painful, lonely autumn of some lives. Take stock. Take inventory. Take a step back.

I know I need a time of introspection sometimes, in order to be able to reach out and to serve.

What about you? Please, God, help us all to be introspective, to number our days, and to serve You.

@chaplaineliza

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