Posted in Christmas, Reflections
Tagged Christmas vacation, community kitchens, cooks, doctors, firefighters, hospital staff, nurses, people who work holidays, plow drivers, police, thanks
Today was Good Friday. Depending on the way you view the liturgical calendar Lent either ended last night or tomorrow, the day before Easter. This leads to my quandary of the day…do I go back on Facebook and Twitter?
If you count Sundays, I have not logged on to my FB and Twitter accounts now for 45 or 46 days. In some way I didn’t really miss it. I didn’t feel tempted to log on. I took them off my home page list on my browsers and my BlackBerry and I guess the old out-of-sight out-of-mind thing works. On the other hand I had many bouts of feeling isolated which I can only attribute to that lack of interaction which comes from at least keeping up with the doings of my friends.
Did I make use of the time I saved and the loss of distraction throughout Lent in order to spend more time in prayer, study and reflection on God? I did a really good job of it for a while at least. I did, as I planned, spend more time reading books and doing cross word puzzles. I completed my on-line course and prepared two services. I’m really glad I decided to make this sacrifice and it is really hard to believe it has really been so long.
How did you make out? Did you give something up for Lent? However we spent Lent, Sunday morning it is time to celebrate the risen Christ. Sing songs! Shout hosannas! Give thanks that God has given this amazing free gift to all of us!
Posted in Reflections
Tagged Bible, Christianity, distractions, Easter, facebook, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Lent, music, praise, prayer, reflection, sacrifice, thanks, Twitter, worship
Several years ago the decision was made at our church to have the Sunday school kids carry their offering up to the front of the church along with the adults. Now, each Sunday the hall monitor goes to the classrooms when the offering is taken in church and gets one of the kids from each classroom to bring in baskets with the offering for the class. These adorable developing Christians come forward ahead of the adults, some shyly, some proudly, and some practically skipping. It is one of my favourite parts of the service. The decision was made so that the kids would be able to connect the collection in the classroom with the congregation’s offering to God and see that their little bit is a part of a bigger whole.
Why do we give money for the offering on Sundays? We know from the story of “the widow’s mite” that a collection was taken in the Synagogue during Christ’s time. Along with the meat, grain, and oil from people’s sacrifices these offerings went towards the maintenance of the synagogue and for the livelihood of the priests. Little has changed. Our congregational offering is handled by boards of members who oversee the maintenance of the physical plant, the stipend for the minister, the materials for worship, the power bill etc. This is what we do with the offering, but is it why we give?
It is tax season. People keep track of their charitable donations over the course of the year and claim them against their income as an aid to getting a break on what they owe, or even a possible refund. We give our members envelopes which allows anonymity with the offering counters as well as a way for the treasurer to credit our giving. Is this the reason we give?
Many of us are familiar with Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 9, “Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.” This is used frequently in sermons and talks on stewardship and it sounds great. If you read the rest of the section it is a part of a letter arranging to send some workers along to help prepare for the collection of a large offering from the congregation.
Jesus talks about tithes while pointing out that the Pharisees do a great job of giving the tithe in the things like spices but not in the things that matter like mercy, judgement and faith. When a rich young man asks how to get into heaven he is told to sell all that he has and give it to the poor. He talks about giving what we have, and for some of us this does not necessarily include money alone.
There are many possible motivations for putting out pennies in the offering plate. While the amount we give may in some way be related to the taxes etc. I believe that we give because we love and believe in God and are grateful for his abundant gifts to us. We give as a way to give praise, show gratitude, and help to further the work of God’s kingdom. Hopefully as we place our envelopes, coins or bills in the plate we may feel like one of our children skipping down the aisle with baskets in our hands!
Posted in Reflections
Tagged baksets, Christianity, church, collection plate, Corinthians, developing christians, giving, God, gratitude, love, offering envelopes, pennies, reflection, Sunday school, thanks