Did you know that tomorrow is Make A Difference Day? I have to admit, I’d never heard of it. Apparently it was created by USA Weekend magazine as an annual event taking place on the fourth Saturday every October. It’s the “national day to help others.”I can’t help but wonder what Martin and Katie Luther would think about Make A Difference Day. Luther teaches us that we are called to care for our neighbors every day, not just on the fourth Saturday of October. As Michael Bennethum has recently written, “Martin Luther’s teaching regarding the vocation — or calling — of all God’s people to respond to God’s grace by serving their neighbors within their own particular places in society is a key element of our heritage as Lutheran Christians.” Indeed.
Lutheran women understand this well. First, we define “neighbor” broadly. When we make a quilt for Lutheran World Relief, we’re caring for a neighbor in Africa or India or some other global place of need. Through the Women of the ELCA grants program we are literally helping neighbors all around the globe. True, we take care of the women in our congregation too, preparing a meal for a family whose lives are turned upside by chemotherapies or death. And we knit and crochet prayer shawls those in our communities who are in need of prayer. So we serve our neighbors, both near and far, those who we know well and those who we will never meet in person.Second, the ways in which we serve our neighbors are limited only by our own creativity. We feed the homeless. We operate clothes closets for those in need. We sell fair trade products, helping to bring a fair wage to workers. We cover education costs for students. We care for God’s creation by recycling, including recycling cell phones. We give mittens, hats and scarves to those who are cold. We give gift cards to school nurses who give them to children in need. We fill backpacks for students. We teach cooking classes, helping children learn about nutritious food. We make cooling scarves and neck coolers for soldiers serving in desert locations. We advocate for better health care.
And I’m only getting started. Garrison Keillor has said that Lutherans are ostentatious in our humility. So, go ahead and brag a little. What is it that you and women in your congregation do to serve your neighbors? I bet whatever it is, it’s not limited to tomorrow.
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA.