Changing to give more than change #40act blog

Changing to give more than change #40act blog

Faith’s third community act of generosity is to offer a sacrificial financial gift to The Cupboard, a food pantry that serves Lawrence Township.  We announced the special gift three weeks ago.  It’s to be received this Sunday, March 26. I’ve had the advantage of knowing that we were making a sacrificial financial gift, even before we entered Lent.  So, I had a chance to think of what I would give up and cut out to make a generous contribution possible. It’s a challenge.  Having a child in college – even with a lot of scholarship assistance – has put a crimp in our family budget.  But, I know where I end up spending more money  than I have to – on convenience.  My time often feels tighter than my money and I will spend on what seems to save me time. If you promise not to judge me (too harshly), I’ll tell you that bottled water, coffee, and lunch on the run add up for me.  They were the obvious extraneous expenditures to target, so I did. The water has been easier than I expected.  Cutting back on purchased coffee has been mainly a matter of being conscious of not making a pit stop.  I have split the difference sometimes to just buy plain, ole coffee, rather than anything doctored up.  That’s still a lot cheaper. Lunch has been a lot harder.  Planning ahead, having items on hand, getting things packed up and put in the car are all more than I seem to manage most days.  Or weeks.  I do keep a stash of sardines and tuna in...

Now for a third time, Jesus is at the home of a prominent Pharisee. His presence in the house attracts the attention of tax collectors and other sinners. Guess it would be like the everyday, ordinary fans – who can’t afford to go to the concert – hanging around outside the home of the well-heeled patron when their favorite celebrity musician goes into a gala affair. Jesus, though, is a celebrity who spends a lot of time mixing with and caring for the everyday, low class, low down people who want to hear his message. And when that crowd, shows up outside the Pharisee’s door, it reminds the religious authorities that Jesus doesn’t just dine with them, he spends a lot of time with those other people.  He socializes with people they wouldn’t consider fit for their tables. I wonder how often we keep others at arm’s length because of our perceptions of them. I wonder how often we create a comfortable distance by categorizing people into certain types. We do this because it gives us power of others. We do it because it makes us feel safe. We name others as we wish, giving them labels and categories, assigning worth and value and status. But in God’s kingdom, there isn’t a scale by which we rank the worth of others. In fact, Jesus is teaching that our place in the kingdom of God is found by giving up our power to name and assign a value to others. Or place in the kingdom of God is found by giving up our place and creating space at the table....
Chocolate Tuesday #40acts blog

Chocolate Tuesday #40acts blog

40 acts has been a bit easier the last few days.  We already have decided on a new charity to support for 2017, I wrote a note to my boss, thanking her for her support and leadership for the church, and I gave away chocolate! We do this as a church – we stand along a local street and hand out small chocolate bars to cars as they stop for the red light.  Last year it worked quite well, and we made lots of people happy as they headed home from work. The other day it was chocolate giveaway day on # 40 Acts, and I decided to try it myself. I was in Dollar Tree and saw Hershey bars on the rack as I was checking out, so I bought 4 of them.  After I paid, I took one of the bars and asked the cashier if she liked chocolate.  She said she did, so I offered her one of the bars.  She said no, but I persisted and she finally took it. Then I offered one to the person in line behind me, and she laughingly took it.  So did the lady in line behind her.  (That’s all there were in line.)  You could see and feel the positive effects in their smiling faces. The cashier said, “you are a kind man!”  I told them about 40 Acts and generosity and I left the store. Just as the door closed behind me, I heard one of the women say:  “He really is a kind man” I was tempted to eat the 4th bar, but I was visiting...
generosity or foolishness?  #40acts blog

generosity or foolishness? #40acts blog

I’ll be honest. This being generous thing can be hard on the mind, heart, and wallet. My daughters and I were up in Chicago to check out the Shedd Aquarium, last Friday. The waters inside were amazing, and so were the waters of Lake Michigan. We were coming back from a breath of windy air, to go back inside. The girls were a bit ahead of me. A man walked up to them with some friendly banter and thrust a folded newspaper into each of their hands. When he got to me, he stopped and pushed the paper at me.  I took it and stuck it under my arm. He said his name was George and he was trying to get together $13 to get a room for the night. I said I bet he wanted a place on such a cold day. I thought George was distributing a Chicago version of Street Sense. In Washington, DC, Street Sense is published and distributed by and for people who have experienced poverty. Men and women, who might otherwise be unemployed, sell the newspaper out on the streets. I was already getting out my wallet, and feeling good about this purchase.  I asked George how much the paper was. He said, “Three dollars and fifty cents.” I handed him a five dollar bill. Something shifted. I saw George look at the other five dollar bill that was poking out of my wallet. George gestured at my daughters and said, “You have three of them.” I raised my eyebrows at George. Then I thought how I was prepared to be generous and...
Unexpected Results #40acts blog post

Unexpected Results #40acts blog post

Unexpected Results We were driving into our condo community Saturday morning and saw lots of trash that had blown on the grass near the entrance.  As we drove up the street towards our condo, my wife said “they should have someone clean that up.”  I responded, “well, that’s today’s 40 acts – to help pick up litter and clean up the area – maybe we should do it.” Well, the day moved along and we got involved in all sorts of other things, including planning our vacation to Disneyworld later this month. About 2 o’clock my wife said that she was going to get her car washed.  I stayed home and continued planning our trip. She seemed to be gone for a long time, but I figured that everybody was having their car washed today, and she would be home soon. After a bit (I don’t know how long a “bit” is) the garage door opened and she said “didn’t you wonder where I was?”  I told her that I wasn’t worried, because everybody was having their car washed today, and I knew it would take a long time. She said, “I came home, put my boots on, and picked up the trash!  The bag is in front of the garage.  Would you take care of it?”  I thought, she sure took today’s 40 ACTS to heart….but, what did I do? Can you imagine how I felt? I’m still working at it as the journey through Lent continues. #40 acts – give it a try!...