Giving and gaining through charity
October 29, 2016
On Tuesday, I woke and checked my iPhone and read my daily Bible verse: "Jesus replied, 'I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.'" (John 6:35)
With the Bread of Life, we are nourished spiritually. Then we are called to share this sustaining love with others, sometimes by sharing actual bread.
With a smile, I remembered that evening would begin my second season on Maggie's team. I jumped out of bed and headed to the kitchen to make a large pan of spicy cornbread to go with the double batch of beef chili I'd finished the day before. We will cook and serve the community dinner at St. John's Episcopal Church each fourth Tuesday for the next six months.
While the cornbread baked, I began my devotions. I opened my Bible at random and began reading: "As Jesus stood in the Temple, he was watching the rich tossing their gifts into the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small copper coins. "Really," he remarked, "this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them combined. For they have given a little of what they didn't need, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has." (Luke 21:2-3)
In the past, I thought this passage meant we should give everything in our bank accounts. But this morning, I saw it in a different light.
Where is our heart when we give?
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Jesus, I believe, isn't condemning the rich and glorifying the poor for their giving. The generosity of wealthy donors has built hospitals and many small donations fund relief organizations for those whose world has collapsed through natural disaster or war.
No matter how much money we throw at a problem it's merely paper if not for the thousands who volunteer to build the houses, serve the meals, care for the wounded — people who understand Jesus is asking us to consider the intention behind our giving.
"Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." (Luke 6:38)
When we share our time, talent and treasure, we receive the same back. Our hearts are expanded. Our communities are improved locally and globally. We create a better world for others and for ourselves.
Throughout Summit County, I have met and written about people who give to serve God and benefit others.
This is why I woke with a smile on Tuesday, why I love Summit County and call it home.
As we approach the holiday season, let's continue our spirit of generosity.
Over the next two months, I will feature ways you can pitch in and make the holidays brighter for everyone in Summit County. If you have a community project you would like mentioned, send me an email at Suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com.
To begin: This year, St. John's Episcopal Church and other local congregations will provide free Thanksgiving groceries to Summit County families so they can enjoy their own Thanksgiving dinner. You can get involved now by shopping for a short list of nonperishable Thanksgiving food items, or you can make a $20 donation, which will go with each bag to pay for the turkey.
Thanksgiving to-Go in Summit County
If you would like to provide a hearty Thanksgiving meal for a Summit County family, or if you would like to receive a free Thanksgiving to-go bag filled with groceries, send an email to Terese Keil at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Week Six of Nine of Psalm Reading:
No matter where we are in our walk with God or in our lives, let's give thanks. This week's psalm demonstrates the duality of reaching out to God for help and thanking him as he hears and responds to our prayers.
Psalm 116 (v. 1,2,7-9,16-17)
1 I love the Lord because he hears my voice
and my prayer for mercy.
2 Because he bends down to listen,
I will pray as long as I have breath!
7 Let my soul be at rest again,
for the Lord has been good to me.
8 He has saved me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling.
9 And so I walk in the Lord's presence
as I live here on earth!
16 O Lord, I am your servant;
yes, I am your servant, born into your household;
you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call on the name of the Lord.
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