Advent Day 8: Thanksgiving

Advent Day 8 

The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)

The spiritual discipline I want to highlight today is gratitude.

Today, spend some time counting your blessings.  Hopefully you’ll have a long list! 

After you’ve made your list, don’t stop there. Here’s the key to the discipline:  after you’ve counted your blessings, consider what kind of thank-offering you can give to God.  A thank-offering is an ancient tradition of giving something away simply out of gratitude, with no intention of earning anyone’s (or God’s) favor.  Your thank-offering can be monetary, material goods, a gift of time, whatever.

All this sounds simple and sweet.  Yet, is it possible to give expecting nothing in return?  On some level, when we show up to volunteer, or when we get out the checkbook, or when we open Christmas presents, don’t we expect a thank-you note … or squeals of delight … or attention from the pastor … or deference from other church members or volunteers?  I’ll never forget a church member who was angry with me years ago.  Instead of saying, “I’m angry,” or “I’m offended,” the person said, “You and I need to talk.  I do a lot for this church, you know!”

I understand that no one wants to volunteer precious time and feel useless or underappreciated, or donate hard-earned money to a lost cause.  I also understand that church members receive “services” such as visits from the pastor when they’re in the hospital.  Even the best of intentions must meet reality somewhere along the path.

When you give your thank-offering, imagine this.  You are watching the sun set over a beautiful lake on a Saturday evening, and suddenly you hear singing in the distance.  It turns out that a church holds Saturday night services during the summer at this lake.  You go to check it out, and are glad you did.  It’s a moving and inspiring worship time.  At some point during the service, they pass an offering plate.  Even though you don’t belong to that church, or live anywhere near the lake, you are grateful for this unexpected blessing.  You place money in the plate, not even paying attention to how much!  See if you can apply this same grateful, abundant spirit as you act on your blessings in your everyday life.

Today’s daily Scripture reading from the PC(USA):  http://gamc.pcusa.org/devotion/daily/2010/12/5/

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