A Season of Gratitude
by Emma Crossen
Gratitude is popular in November, though it usually goes by another name—Thanksgiving. Giving thanks often turns into giving other gifts. Charities raise most of their money at this time of year. Volunteers observe the holiday by serving a meal at a shelter or delivering food baskets to families. Yet, the link between gratitude and giving is not automatic. Why not count your blessings and end it there?
Christianity is one of many religious traditions that teach followers to go further and follow “I have been given much” with “therefore I should give.” Jesus put it this way in Luke 12:48: “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required.”
For Christian disciples, giving thanks involves acknowledging our responsibility to give. The Thankoffering is one way that Christian women have encouraged the link between gratitude and giving. Begun in the late 19th century, the Thankoffering tradition encourages women to take a daily account of God’s blessings and, in response, give small offerings into a Thankoffering box. Then, at an annual Thankoffering worship service, women combine their individual collections to support mission and ministry. Among Women of the ELCA participants, November is a popular month for Thankoffering services. Thankofferings reinforce the idea that gratitude should inspire giving.
Your Thankofferings Matter
Many of these ministries will be lifted up when congregational groups hold a Thankoffering service. Last year, Thankofferings totaled $846,635.
This year, the goal is set at $1,010,000. All of these dollars will support the ministries of Women of the ELCA, like training racial-justice advocates; producing resources about discipleship, stewardship, and justice; translating resources into Spanish; training and supporting women to be bold and effective leaders in Women of the ELCA and the church; daily outreach through Daily Grace, Facebook, and Twitter; publishing Gather magazine and award-winning Bible studies that inspire and educate women in thousands of congregations; producing Café e-zine and podcast to reach multiple generations of women; and administering grants and scholarships to serve women and children in crisis, help Lutheran women pursue diverse careers, and equip congregations to start health ministries in their communities.
Emma Crossen is Women of the ELCA director for stewardship and development.
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