Some years back, a person in our church came to see me and gave me a check. The reason? To have something to give others when in need. You see, he had just come through a rough physical challenge. A rare cancer, while not fatal, meant numerous surgeries and a painful, challenging recovery. He was thankful for his healing and the strength to persevere. Now he wanted to leave something to help others.
Pause on that thought for a moment. Go back to the early 1620’s. The original pilgrim colony shared all they had in common. It was one of the reasons they survived the first winter. At one point they were down to five kernels of corn per person per day for food. The next spring they continued this practice even with 60 new arrivals. That coming harvest season, as their supplies were more abundant and surviving turned into thriving, they called for a celebration. They invited ninety Native Americans to join them in an expression of gratitude for the help they provided in surviving that first difficult winter. They turned thanks into giving.
Now fast forward to this past week. I was out of town for a short overnight trip to visit a church in Michigan. On the way back I stopped at a Burger King for lunch. The cashier, an older Latino woman, was especially friendly. Such a joyful spirit in a fast food place always stands out to me. She said, “This is a blessed day. What can I do for you?” After ordering I said, “So how are you doing today?” I wasn’t expecting this next part.
A sudden tear appeared in her eye. I said, “That tear doesn’t square with the joy you show.” She told me, “I know. I am raising my grandchildren and struggling today. My electricity is about to be turned off if I can’t get the bill paid soon. I try to stay hopeful and positive because this is how the good Lord helps me keep going.” I asked if she would write down her name and address. When I got back to the office, I had a check sent to her.
Normally I don’t do that sort of thing. Who knows if I was being taken? For some reason I just don’t believe I was. I thought about the person who gave me the money to help someone. Out of gratitude, he gave and a woman raising her grandchildren in Michigan will have a little help with her bills.
I guess you could call that Pilgrim Theology. Turning thanks into giving. It challenges me to think of ways I can express gratitude with what I have by giving to help others. I share these stories so that you, too, might consider ways to express your gratitude beyond a prayer before a big meal. How might your thanks become giving?
See you Sunday,