Reflections for October 12, 2014
We are in a season focused on Joy in Giving, and we have been asked to reflect on the places where we have experienced great joy in giving in and through the church. We have heard stories of the ways in which our gifts are making a difference in the world.
I grew up in a household with very generous parents. We were not wealthy, and in my early years we lived a very simple life in an old, drafty farmhouse that had no running water. We grew most of the food we ate, and we worked hard. Most of my school friends lived in the same environment, and there was little distinction between rich and poor. My dad farmed and worked in town. He also sold crop insurance to farmers to help make ends meet. On Saturdays, he would go out to the farms and visit with his clients.
It wasn’t unusual for Dad to return home from his visits with stories of people in need—a farm family who had experienced a serious illness or a farmer whose crops had failed. There were always stories of families who were struggling to pay bills or to have enough to eat. Without hesitation my mom would fill a couple of bags with groceries, and my dad would go to the bank and get some cash. In our old car, the two of them would head out to visit and offer their gifts to the family in need. Giving to others was natural to them, and it gave them great joy to share what they had with others.
When I was growing up, our church used the envelope system for giving. Every church member had a box of envelopes, one for every Sunday in the year. My parents made a Saturday night ritual of preparing their envelope with a check for their church inside. If they missed a Sunday (which was rare), they’d prepare two envelopes. I am grateful for my parents’ continued witness of generosity.