Given Everything

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Mark 12:38-44.

When I think about “my pastor” I think about Riley Short. He was appointed to my home church – First UMC Lakeland – when I was in elementary school and retired the year I graduated from high school. I grew up with him as he grew up my church.

When I was in seventh grade I drew the “short straw” – as in I was not in Sunday School one day so I was “voluntold” the next week that I would be preaching all three services at our upcoming Youth Sunday. I was terrified. The sermon was on the temptation of Christ in the wilderness. I used way too many “air-quotes” and talked way too fast. It was awful.

Riley asked me to stand with him in the greeting line after the 11 o’clock service that day. He had his arm around my shoulder the entire time, the look of great pride and pleasure across his face. When we concluded all our greetings, Riley squeezed me a little tighter to his side, looked me in the eye, and said, “You will be a great preacher one day.”

I do not know about the “great preacher” part – but those words that Riley spoke in my life and into my life have profoundly shaped me to this day. And they will continue to shape me beyond this day. Those words, which to some may have seemed so small, so minor, perhaps even flattery without any real grounding in reality, gave me everything.

They offered me life.

The offerings that we make throughout our lives – with our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness – with our words, actions, and deeds – with our hugs and handshakes – with our taking the time rather than rushing the time – make all the difference in the world. What may seem like just a small drop in the bucket create ripples of change – and if we are aware – we see that the change impacts not only our neighbor, but us as well.

If we move too quickly in life, we will miss opportunities to give and therefore receive. If we think too highly of ourselves, much like the Scribes in our Scripture passage for this week, then our behavior is not only a detriment to our neighbors – it is also a detriment to ourselves. God asks that when we give, we give what is most valuable in that moment. Therefore, what we give may change from moment to moment – that we give is to remain constant…constant and dynamic.

Our offerings – be they our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness – our words, actions, and deeds – our hugs and handshakes – our taking the time rather than rushing the time – make all the difference in the world. Our offerings are opportunities for us to speak life and speak into the lives of one another and our neighbors. How awesome it is that our God gives us this privilege – this responsibility! Receive it with care. And share your offerings with great joy.

In the words of Riley, “And that’s the truth…Amen.”

Prayer: “Give thanks for tomorrow, full of surprises for knowing whatever tomorrow may bring, the Word is our promise always, forever; we rest in God’s keeping and live in God’s love.”* Amen.

*”What Gift Can We Bring,” The United Methodist Hymnal 87.


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