This Facebook post is a perfect illustration of my philosophy. Life is not about hording and keeping what we have received. Life in all its fullness only comes through being open and generous. Caring, sharing and giving makes life worthwhile.
A truly thankful heart is one that wants others the enjoy the same gifts we have received. Sharing, even a meager crust, is far better than eating a banquet alone. We don’t need thicker walls and taller fences. We need longer tables.
The poor and the hungry do not need our charity. They need, and they deserve, justice. Every hungry person, every poor person we meet offers us the opportunity to reflect the love of Christ.
We live in a world that has grown much colder and much darker. Reaching our in mercy and compassion to the poor shines the light of hope for our society. The “least of these among us” offer us redemption. All we have to do is take it.
True success is far more than more power, prestige and money. True success must include significance. And to be significant we must live lives of active compassion. We must love others even as Christ has first loved us.
God of mercy and justice, we praise you this perfect day for all the gifts you have given your children. We glorify your name for your sustaining grace and the everlasting love poured so freely into our lives. You have given us so much, and for everything we have and all that we are, we give you our thanks.
Our prayer this morning is for the grace to more fully respond to the love and grace you have first given us. Help us always remember, and always be aware that all we have comes from you.
We have been so richly blessed with material abundance. We have financial wealth unimaginable by most of our human family. We take solid shelter and good homes for granted in a world teeming with refugees and the homeless. Food security is never an issue for our families Instead, we complain about variety and search out ever newer and exotic meals. We spend without thought, and eat to excess in a world full of poor and hungry.
Forgive us, Lord, for our thoughtlessness. Forgive us for our lack of awareness. Forgive us for our continued misuse of the gifts so freely bestowed upon us. Forgive us for our lack of caring… and our lack of sharing.
Lord, open our eyes so that we might see our world through your eyes. Grant us compassion deep enough to bring us to our knees in true empathy with those of our family chained by poverty and hunger. Grant us the miracle-working power of your Holy Spirit to lift us above our self-centeredness, our selfishness and fears so that we might love the least of these among us enough to open ourselves fully enough to share not only all we have…but all we are. Lord, teach us this morning how to be generous, and to give as you have first given to us.
Grant us more generous hearts. Help us more fully reflect your love through our caring and our sharing. And let all we have been given be used to glorify you. Amen
A Prayer for World Peace
by Jane Goodall
|We pray to the great Spiritual Power in which
we live and move and have our being.
We pray that we may at all times
keep our minds open to new ideas and shun dogma;
that we may grow in our understanding of the nature of all living beings
and our connectedness with the natural world;
that we may become ever more filled with
generosity of spirit and true compassion and love for all life;
that we may strive to heal the hurts that we have inflicted on nature
and control our greed for material things, knowing that
our actions are harming our natural world and the future of our children;
that we may value each and every human being
for who he is, for who she is,
reaching to the spirit that is within,
knowing the power of each individual to change the world.We pray for social justice,
for the alleviation of the crippling poverty
that condemns millions of people around the world
to lives of misery – hungry, sick, and utterly without hope.
We pray for the children who are starving,
who are condemned to homelessness, slave labor, and prostitution,
and especially for those forced to fight, to kill and torture
even members of their own family.
We pray for the victims of violence and war,
for those wounded in body and for those wounded in mind.
We pray for the multitudes of refugees, forced from their homes to alien places
through war or through the utter destruction of their environment.We pray for suffering animals everywhere,
for an end to the pain caused by scientific experimentation,
intensive farming, fur farming, shooting, trapping,
training for entertainment, abusive pet owners,
and all other forms of exploitation
such as overloading and overworking pack animals,
bull fighting, badger baiting, dog and cock fighting and so many more.We pray for an end to cruelty,
whether to humans or other animals,
for an end to bullying, and torture in all its forms.
We pray that we may learn the peace that comes with forgiving
and the strength we gain in loving;
that we may learn to take nothing for granted in this life;
that we may learn to see and understand with our hearts;
that we may learn to rejoice in our being.We pray for these things with humility;
We pray because of the hope that is within us,
and because of a faith in the ultimate triumph of the human spirit;
We pray because of our love for Creation, and because of our trust in God.
We pray, above all, for peace throughout the world.
Tom Berlin is the senior pastor of Floris UMC in Herndon, Virginia. He is also a close friend who is one of the most mission-minded church leaders I know. This is a recent article on a new United Methodist Church iniative here in Virginia.
When life gives you lemons …
By the Rev. Tom Berlin
I never thought when I entered ministry that the Virginia Annual Conference would encourage us to start lemonade stands. Start new churches, yes. Start new ministries, okay. But lemonade stands?
But I think this plan from the folks who are leading the Imagine No Malaria initiative in Virginia is a great idea for many reasons. Let me share a few:
- It involves kids and those who care for them. Kids like helping people, and they like the opportunity to run things that make a real difference in ways you can count. When their efforts give them an opportunity to be generous with the funds they have earned, they are truly empowered to bless others. At Floris UMC we have challenged the kids by telling them that the church will double every dollar that they raise. Their leadership will have twice the impact!
- I like buying lemonade from kids. I think if you drive past a kid in at a lemonade stand and don’t stop, you are just a bad American. When you give a kid a dime or a quarter for a cup of lemonade, they get very excited and all official business on you. I just get a kick out of it.
- It gives people who don’t go to our churches an opportunity to be generous, and generosity is good for the soul. Picture the smiling adult plunking down their quarter for the lemonade – the kid is smiling, the adult is smiling, the adult helping the kid is smiling. Now imagine that kid saying, thanks, all the proceeds from our lemonade stand go to fight malaria. You can read about it right here.The customer reads about Imagine No Malaria and realizes what a great thing this kid is doing selling lemonade for a good cause. That spurs generosity. It is not coerced or guilt-ridden. It is the kind of joyful generosity that helps people sleep better at night knowing they have been about good in the world. So often people want to do the right thing, and just need a good opportunity.
- Kids at Floris are going to hand out invitations to attend our church along with information about malaria. I can’t think of a better advertisement for the UMC than children who know about the world beyond their community, serve those who suffer from a terrible disease and are a part of a church excited about their efforts. I hope we have kids in every neighborhood in our area offering lemonade and telling those who stop about what we are doing to relieve the suffering of malaria. Think of how that will change the way many people think about the church.
Finally, I am excited because I travel to Sierra Leone, Africa, on a fairly regular basis and know people who routinely suffer from malaria, which is debilitating and can lead to tragic deaths. The money raised in Virginia and shared with our church in Africa matters. These lemonade stands aren’t just some new gimmick. They are a means of grace to pay for bed nets, medications and training that will save lives. And that, friends, is one sweet deal.