Meet in the Middle: Pray & Love

A few weeks ago on a Sunday, I presented a prayer card in church. This breath prayer shared in the graphic, is words from the main prayer. These words wake me up many mornings.

I shared this card the weekend after our break-in. It just felt like we needed something to remind us why we are here.

We have had an outpouring of gifts from a dozen different individuals and organizations that wanted to help following the theft. People who were closely connected to the church, people who had visited here once from out-of-state on a mission trip, people who are loosely connected through various things, and a couple of folks not connected to Open Heart at all, but who know me, and just wanted to help.

People give, because people need to give. They want to give. It is hard-wired into most people, especially if they are fairly emotionally healthy (but not always), even if they are not financially healthy. Giving is what we do because we want to see good things happen in the world.

Giving is an act of hope in the future, and an act of faith that there is enough to share.

Jesus made it pretty obvious that our lives, as followers, are not about our comfort. But boy, we as humans sure spend a lot of time thinking about it, don't we?

Our lives—as believers—are supposed to be about learning more and more about who Jesus was, how he behaved, and then trying to be like him.

Our lives, when we look at what Jesus said, are about loving God with everything we are, and loving others we come across just as we love ourselves. And yes, we ARE supposed to love ourselves. This is obedience. Respect. Care. Stewardship.

We don't follow Jesus out of pride, or duty, but out of love, thankfulness, gratitude.

It's November and there are lots of people talking about various concepts of "thanks-giving." It's a little weird this year, as we also talk a lot about inflation, and how much more food, energy, and housing is costing us all. Most "thanksgiving" celebrations may be a little smaller than years past, and may be served with a steaming hot side of griping about the economy. And then there are the political goings on that we may or may not be giving thanks for.

So in this season of harvest and "plenty", as we remember that some of our neighbors may not give thanks for this holiday for many good reasons... May not be celebrating because they live outside or in their car. As we think about what power, and gifts and resources we do have, even if they're small... Let us also look at how much we are giving away. (Don't give up on me now. Keep reading! You can do it.)

Are we generous with our time? Have we managed our time in such a way that we have time to give to an organization or person that needs it? How about our family? Close friends? The little old lady or man down the street? Do we need to give something up because we have said yes to too many things that do not give life, but only suck it out of us?

Are we generous with our talents? What do we do skillfully and easily that could be a blessing for another? Do we have a talent we have let go dormant, thinking it didn't matter? It matters... Pick it up again. There is only one you.

Are we generous with our treasure aka, financial resources? Are we working toward giving away a "tithe"? Maybe you don't feel called to give to our church or any church... God works in a lot of ways... Civic organizations, Go-Fund-Me accounts, Angel Trees, Love INC, The Nature Conservancy, etc... I know 10 percent of our income (a tithe) sounds like a lot, but if you start out trusting God with $1 or $5 at a time, eventually, God can show you how maybe a tithe is too little to give. Yup. Really.

How much is too much to give back to God? Any day is a good day to start trusting God more with your money. Once you realize you can trust God with your money, what is left to trust God with? (Note: if you are struggling with a crushing amount of debt, work on that first. God wants you to be okay. But talk to God about it, and maybe seek some financial counseling too, okay?.)

Are we generous with our relationships? Are we showing the people we love how much they mean to us? Are we honoring them? And are we sharing our relationships in a meaningful way? That is, are we connecting with people and helping others connect, that the whole world may be blessed? People need people, and if there was ever a time when we had a lot of people who were having trouble connecting, it's now. It's not all fixed because the pandemic is over. People are still living on their phones, while others are still afraid to come out of their houses.

God uses people to show people they are loved. And I'm not talking about romantic love, but about deep caring. Loving-kindness. We need to make ourselves available. If we don't, who will?

We are heading into the dark of winter.


People need to know they matter, especially when they are in the dark. So I encourage you, to breathe that prayer, "LORD God, empower us with your love. Help us make a faithful difference." And then be the prayer.

Make a faithful difference. Give in hope to the world around you, in some way.

Smiles, laughter, five bucks, whatever. But give. Because you can. You need to. You will be glad you did. God will help you do it, if you ask.

All in Love,
~ Pastor Michele

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