“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Growing up, we often celebrated the holidays with friends and family. I remember as a child how everyone would sigh when Grandma would begin the prayer before we ate our Thanksgiving meal. We all knew what was coming. She would ask each of us to tell what we were thankful for on that special day. You didn’t get the option to pass. You had to say something. As a Polish refugee, Grandma knew the importance of appreciating even the smallest thing, for there was usually some sacrifice that came first.
What are you thankful for this year? And no, you can’t pass! Think about the many things you have … a place to sleep in comfort, enough food on your table, clothes to keep you warm (or cool), the beauty of nature all around you, and most importantly, your family. Where does all this come from? Who provides? Yes, we work to earn money to buy many of those things. But who gives us the skill and wisdom to do the job? My answer to those questions is “GOD.” God provides.
While he was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you.” – Luke 11:37-41
We all like to be seen doing the right thing. The question is, what is the “outside of our cup?” How do we try to look to others? How do we want to be seen? What is “inside our cup” What are the desires and deeds we try to keep hidden from others?
In Verse 41, Jesus suggests that if we develop a generous heart, if we get the “inside” right, then greed and wickedness will melt away. We need to talk to Jesus in our own words about any areas of “greed and wickedness” we want him to remove from our hearts.
You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this. I’m talking about stewardship! What has this to do with stewardship? I am asking you to “look inside your cup” and take stock of your gifts. What can you and I do to grow the Women of the ELCA nationally and locally? We need to encourage our units to remember Thankofferings which go directly to churchwide Women of the ELCA. We need to encourage our units to “give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you.” In your conversation with God remember – God provides!
Written by Cathy Sell. This first appeared in the December 2018 issue of The Open Door, the newsletter of the East Central Synod of Wisconsin Women of the ELCA