chocolate bars and connection #40acts blog

chocolate bars and connection #40acts blog

#chocolatetuesday is one of 40activists favorite days.  It’s simple: be generous with chocolate on a Tuesday. Being generous with chocolate is a lot easier and more fun, I think, than all those other ways of being generous.  Chocolate seems to be a natural way to offer a small, joyful gift to people you don’t know very well. This is the second year that Faith has practiced #chocolatetuesday as a community act of generosity.  Last year, we labeled a lot of little pieces of chocolate and hung out at the corner of 82nd and Hague, right outside our church.  We chose a Friday, during rush hour, because traffic was particularly bad that year because there was a great deal of road construction going on. When cars stopped, we moved up and down the rows, showing our “free chocolate” signs.  A lot of windows opened.  We passed in one, two, maybe three mini pieces of chocolate.  Smiles broke out.  A few people tried to give us money.  People asked if we were from the church on the corner.  It was a lot of fun. This year, we labeled full-size chocolate bars, in the five favorite American flavors.  (Except our shopper couldn’t find full-size M &M’s.  Guess they really are the number one seller.) On a Saturday afternoon, we went over to the parking garage at Community North Hospital, quite near our church.  We met people as they were driving into the parking deck, walking into the hospital, or returning to their cars.  We gave chocolate to nurses coming off shifts, prospective parents completing a tour, visitors going home, people about to...
Generosity in the Magic Kingdom #40acts blog

Generosity in the Magic Kingdom #40acts blog

You never know when an opportunity to be generous will present itself. The 3 PM Magic Kingdom parade was about to start, and we found great a great viewing place where we could sit on a wall and have an unobstructed view of Mickey and all his friends.  Sitting next to us was a couple with a cute two or three-year-old little girl.  Her father spoke to her in broken English and what sounded like Italian as the little girl eagerly awaited the parade.  Her mother had walked away a few minutes earlier and came back and said, to the little girl: “sorry, they only take cash.” The little girl was crestfallen.  I asked what she wanted, and she said a Little Mermaid Bubble Machine that was being sold from a cart across the street from where we were sitting. I decided to be generous and got up, walked across to the cart, and bought a Little Mermaid Bubble Machine for the little girl.  I told the family that this was our gift to them.  The little girl was thrilled and came and gave me a big hug.  The father shook my hand and said thanks. The parade began and when the Mermaid float came by, the character noticed the bubble machine in the little girl’s hand and gave her an excited smile! Just a small random act of...
how to bridge the gap

how to bridge the gap

As Presbyterians, we bounce back and forth with our Episcopalian brothers and sisters as the denomination with the wealthiest members in our country. Where we have never been surpassed is our education level. Presbyterians are consistently the most highly educated church-goers in the United States. We are rich, and we are smart and well educated. Yet, according to the US Government, the rate of poverty in our country has hovered between 11 and 15% since the war on poverty was declared in 1964. That’s somewhere around 43 million people. In Indiana, even with recent improvements, there are almost 6,000 people without homes. Over 600 families with children are homeless. If we are so rich and so smart and Christian, why is this happening? The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reports: “There is a great chasm separating us.” The gap between the rich and poor continues to grow. In OECD countries, which includes the US, the richest 10% of the population earn almost ten times the income of the poorest 10%. CEO’s are frequently paid around 300 times more than the salary of ordinary workers. Forty years ago, the salary gap was a multiplication of 20. A great chasm separates us now. We sit in our homes and churches and feast, sumptuously, as Luke says, while people right outside are suffering from injuries and illnesses, with no companionship in their poverty. If we are so rich and so smart, why do these people not have somewhere to stay? According to Jesus, it isn’t our wealth that’s the problem, and our smarts aren’t the solution. In this parable, it is...
Influencing the lives of those who help me #40acts blog

Influencing the lives of those who help me #40acts blog

I think it started with Act 6: Listen. I thought I would try to pay particular attention to the words and mood of those with whom I came in contact.  It made me listen carefully – with my whole self – to people who take care of me and others through the day and night.  Clerks. Cashiers.  Receptionists.  Customer service agents.  The voice at the end of the line.  The person behind the counter. Service personnel. Nurses. Aides. Hygienists. Wait staff. Technicians. Then came Act 8: Pause.  I admit that I tend to have high expectations; I can get a bit testy when I think someone should be helping me, but they appear to be putting up road blocks or just slowing my pace to get to my desired outcome.  I’m not given to yelling; I do turn icy, and I am clearly dissatisfied.  Now, I had to put the brakes on my tone and words directed toward people stuck doing a job and delivering a message over which they have little control. Then came Act 9: Lean.  Now, I had to move from demanding that all those people be endlessly helpful to watching for when they needed help.  I saw the new guy, who was still struggling. I noticed a lot of workers who are given too much to do.  I felt for the all the people who have to follow policies they didn’t create. My heart breaks for those who appear distracted by burdens larger than their current job. And then came Act 15: Influence.  I thought about the influence I have in all the communities – real and...
Pray generously #40acts blog

Pray generously #40acts blog

This morning I am sitting on a 7th floor balcony in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.  It is a beautiful location with sun and sand and beautiful scenery.  I am also continuing my journey through Lent 2017 with the daily #40acts of generosity e-mails. On this journey through Lent, the 40acts continue to challenge me with doing and thinking about things that seem so sensible, but don’t often receive my attention as they should. The other morning I opened up my e-mail and found that prayer was the day’s topic: not really about how to pray as in “ACTS”(Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication), but in how to pray as in when and why, and in how to be generous with my prayers.  I thought that I was the only one who had trouble setting aside an hour in the morning to pray, or who wasn’t keeping a prayer journal listing every prayer I had ever made and tracking the results. I read about others and how they had worked to overcome prayer barriers in their lives: posting lists on the refrigerator, carrying 3×5 cards with names on them, praying as they walked step by step, consciously thinking of others, not just people they know, but strangers they pass as well. I got some good ideas that I am going to be able to incorporate into my prayer life as well. Have a great day, wherever you are, and keep on...