I’ve been thinking about the Thankoffering service that Women of the ELCA publishes every autumn. Last year, the Thankoffering service that was written for our Triennial Gathering began with the hymn, “Gracious Spirit, Heed Our Pleading” (ELW 401), written by the Rev. Dr. Wilson Niwagila, a pastor and professor at the Lutheran Theological College in Tanzania. And the same hymn begins our Thankoffering service again this year.
Why is that? Read the text. We implore the Holy Spirit to fashion us all anew, to lead us, to teach us, to nourish us, to bless us, to guide our thinking and speaking. And we sing again and again, Come, Holy Spirit!
We implore the Holy Spirit to fashion us all anew, to lead us, to teach us, to nourish us, to bless us, to guide our thinking and speaking.
Ask the Holy Spirit to guide our thinking and speaking
An old friend of mine used to say with a smile that you never know what’s going to happen when you invite the Holy Spirit in. But what do we think might happen if we ask the Holy Spirit to guide our thinking and speaking?
Let’s take a few guesses.
Would we speak out more persistently for peace and justice in our world? Would we act and advocate even more fervently to end human trafficking? Would we truly love and serve our neighbors as ourselves–all our neighbors, including those whose grandparents spoke a different language than ours did, whose skin is a different color than our own, who think differently about things than we do?
Wouldn’t that be amazing! That’s how we’d know it was the work of the Holy Spirit.
Well, all that came from pondering our Thankoffering service. We’ve made a special page on our website with all the information about Thankofferings. You can click the link to Thankofferings under Stewardship, or you can simply type in welca.org/thankofferings to get there. Our 2018 Thankoffering service will be posted in mid-September, and it will also be included in the fall issue of Interchange, which is mailed to every congregation.
Read the hymn again. Sing it. It’s pretty catchy, especially when you sing it at a lively tempo, like a march. Let’s sing it together and clap our hands and stamp our feet! Let’s call on the Holy Spirit!
Audrey Novak Riley is director for stewardship for Women of the ELCA. Photo by Jim Veneman: Savannah Frye and Maddie Brooks Waggy, Bethel Lutheran, Madison, Wis., bring attention to the issue of human trafficking by sharing statistics. Thankofferings support all the work behind the scenes of Women of the ELCA, like our presence at the ELCA Youth Gathering where these two young women learned about human trafficking.
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