Posts Tagged ‘spiritual gifts’

Advent 1: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

A few comments on the Epistle reading from November 27, 2011 …

One phrase jumps out at me from this passage:  you are not lacking in any spiritual gift. (v. 7)

I wish I could  paste this verse onto the college students and young adults I meet!  Yes, it would look ridiculous to have people walking around with words that I glued to their shirts.  Still, I wish I could help more followers of Christ understand that they are enriched, strengthened, and and called by him.

We preach so much nonsense about self-esteem in our culture, to the point that it backfires and folks are left even more doubtful and afraid.  “Believing in ourselves” becomes a dry well, and no matter how furiously we dig, water won’t emerge.  Allowing Jesus’ living water to flow over us, however, is a different matter.

I enjoy reading daily devotionals and blogs on The High Calling, a site for Christians who want to think about spirituality and daily life.  One recent post highlighted the fears we all face and the change of heart that comes from drawing strength from God to face fear.

God has given us what we need:  how many times will we need to hear it before we believe it?  We may not receive God’s gifts in the exact form we had imagined (a certain job, a certain date.)  We may not receive God’s gifts in the form that others wanted for us.  (Every academic year produces scores of disappointed parents, despondent because their child chose a major different than the ones the parents wanted.)

Yet we already have immeasurable spiritual gifts, like patience, faith, and mercy.  Christ has given us the power and the freedom to use those gifts in everything that we do.  The Savior f0r whom we hope will not leave us wanting.

egg money and leadership training

During my first call as a pastor, I found out about egg money.

One Monday evening, I was listening to the treasurer’s report at the Presbyterian Women meeting, and asked why the group was giving a donation to the general church budget.  Doesn’t everyone already give to the general offering, I asked?  Well, I was told, that’s the egg money.

And what is egg money, I asked?  I learned that it was money women in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries earned on their own, without their husband’s oversight, raising chickens and selling eggs.  The tradition had lasted long after women gained equal access to the family checkbook.

Sometimes the church gets criticized, and rightly so, for being a place where only the select few are allowed to belong or participate.

Yet, sometimes the church is the only place where people can find opportunities to use their gifts and express their thoughts.  Women, slaves, unemployed people … these were groups that were cut off from full participation in the rest of society, and often from full participation in church.  So they created their own space.  Women’s groups, religious meetings in the woods, and youth groups for the countless young adults out of work during the Depression are just a few examples of how people have taken the do-it-yourself route when the system failed them.

future community gardener, maybe?

And these spaces provided great opportunities to become leaders!  I’ve always been impressed with the resumes of women from my mother’s and grandmothers’ generations … but those resumes were not necessarily formed at work, because their opportunities were restricted.  Those resumes were formed at church.  We may come in to the church building with just our egg money, or just our clothes dirty from pounding the pavement looking for work, but if the church is doing things right we can be transformed into people who claim their place at the table.

The old days are gone, and perhaps the need for an “egg money” account is no longer, but we still have people who are denied a full place and full participation.  We still have people coming to our door who could be uplifted, educated, trained, and sent out … by the church.  Think of the folks who have been edged out of the workplace, because they are too old or too fresh-out-of-college.  Or think of the refugees resettling in your area (it’s amazing to me how many little corners of America are home to communities of refugees.)  Or the people who have always been underemployed, living on the margins.

Who in your community may have a little egg money and a lot of potential?