by Janna Smith
A lot has happened to all of us since March 15, 2020. These last few weeks remind me of 29 years ago during Desert Storm. My husband and I were living in Nuremberg, Germany, and he had just joined the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR).
Right after President H.W. Bush spoke to the American people on TV, the alerts went off, and the regiment prepared to go to war.
Those were scary times. Military posts, housing areas, post exchanges, and commissaries were sealed off, and it was a major deal to gain access. Plus, we were in a foreign country, away from our families. Our military chaplains went to the desert with their squadrons. Reserve chaplains were activated in the states and sent to Germany.
Family support groups were organized, something I had not seen before in the military. This was before social media (1990). I remember getting excited hearing about something called electronic mail. The 2nd ACR Rear Detachment had one email account with the regiment in the desert, but it could only be used for military purposes.
Our regimental commander’s wife would write out long messages to the other wives on a tagboard. These messages were taped up in the post office on the Kaserne (barracks).
In the late 1800s, Lutheran women had small boxes to place in a special location in their homes as a visible reminder of blessings received.
Women would add coins to those boxes almost daily as they noticed blessing. These boxes became the origin of the annual Women of the ELCA Thankoffering service that we still hold in many of our churches today.
I inherited my mother’s storm jar. I didn’t even know what it was. She purchased it at Rowe Pottery in Cambridge years ago. It is a ceramic jar with a candle and matches inside. During a storm, if you lost your electricity, you knew to go to that jar for light.
During our current storm, why don’t we find a box or an old jar from around the house (decorate it, if you wish) and then drop in coins whenever we feel thankful or hopeful about something.
If you run out of coins, drop in buttons (later replacing them with money). It will help us focus on the good–on the positive. After this is all over, we can bring forward our offerings and offer them during our Thankoffering services in the fall (or whenever we gather again).
Take pictures of your boxes or storm jars, and post them for someone to see. Tell them what a Thankoffering is.
Janna Smith is president of the South Central Wisconsin Synodical Women’s Organization. This article first appeared in the April 2020 issue of The Trumpeter, the SWO’s newsletter. Learn more about Thankofferings here.
Note: After writing this article, I discovered (on Facebook) that a current SCW synodical board member and Cambridge native, Diane Luginbuhl, used to work at Rowe Pottery. She began decorating and painting the pottery in 1985 and was there for many years.