March Devotion: Gifts for the common good
Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:4-7
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
Stewardship often begins with the question “How do I use my gifts to benefit the common good?” We even ask it of others to help them get more involved. How can she use her gifts to benefit our common good?
We should be careful, though, or else we’ll use this question to avoid change.
For instance, consider a women’s group that says the common good requires four officers, monthly Bible study and at least two annual fundraisers. To support this “common good,” they set out to find women to fill these roles and carry out these activities.
What happens if the women in the congregation are tired of doing business meetings but love monthly Bible study? What if they can’t find four women to serve as officers but they do have new women who bring gifts for organizing retreats, planning service projects and building relationships through prayer?
What if they let these new gifts reshape their vision of the common good? Instead of needing four officers, they could appoint a coordinating team. They might revive a prayer chain through email and Facebook, invite more women to join and see how those prayers shape new relationships. They might replace the spring luncheon with an annual retreat at a nearby state park.
Instead of trying to squeeze each other’s gifts into an old vision of the “common good,” what if they asked each other, “How is my vision of the common good changing because of the gifts you bring?”
1 Corinthians reminds us that the common good has many expressions.
Women of the ELCA describes the common good in big, broad language that leaves room for variety and change. In the words of our purpose statement: We commit ourselves to grow in faith, affirm our gifts, support one another in our callings, engage in ministry and action, and promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society, and the world. There are many ways to live out this purpose with a variety of gifts, activities and service. As scripture says, “It is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.”
God who is one, guide us to learn more about each other and the gifts we bring, so we can further our vision and pursuit of the common good. Amen.
Emma Crossen is director for stewardship and development.