by Rev. Cynthia Weems, FUMC Miami, FL
First, read 1 Peter 4:10-11
On a particular Sunday last fall one of our faithful offering counters approached me after worship. She wanted to show me something, and wanted to do it appropriately. What she shared was an offering envelope. It had a name on it that she was unfamiliar with but I recognized as one of our new Angolan members. The offering amount was $76.31. She said he puts the same amount in the envelope each week and does so very faithfully. She was puzzled by the amount, however, and just thought it curious and worth showing me.
I had a fairly quick response for her. Although I wasn’t certain, of course, I told her I was confident that $76.31 represented exactly (to the penny!) ten percent of his weekly earnings. It would be customary in his country for there to be a strong focus on the tithe and my impression was that he was very faithful to that. The counter smiled, and was pleased, and then said, “We Americans tend to round our giving. And, unfortunately, we round down rather than up!”
We are told in 1 Peter, “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.”
For this particular church member, “serving one another” with the gifts God had given him meant handing over a portion of his financial gifts. He also donates clothing on a regular basis, and assists in our outreach ministries to the homeless.
In this season of giving, I invite you to take a minute to consider the gifts you have received -- talents, education, income, passions. Consider making a list of the ways you share at least ten percent of what God has given you by “serving” others. Ten percent of your talent for cooking. Ten percent of your skill at accounting. Ten percent of your passion for music. And ten percent of your income. What a wonderful way to recommit to being “good stewards” of the grace and gifts of God!
Did you know that we all have special gifts? These gifts are not the kind all wrapped in sparkly paper and ribbon and waiting under the Christmas tree. Though we might have some of those too, these gifts are the special gifts given to each of us by God. We call them our “spiritual gifts.”
These gifts make us unique and are exactly the way God calls us to give to the world. God has made each of us with these special gifts that we might choose to give with our special talents and make this world a better place. Some of us are really good listeners. Some have a heart for compassion. Others are good at making things. God made you with these gifts not just to be special, but to use your gifts to bring about God’s kingdom on earth.
Talk with your family about the ways you are gifted by God. Then, think of ways you can use your special gifts to give to others. If you are gifted at art, make Christmas cards for a nursing home or homeless shelter. If you are gifted at cooking, make a special meal and bring it to someone in need. What are your gifts and how can you use them to share God’s love with others this Christmas?