One evening during the Community Dinner, Roger sneaks next to me and whispers: “Hey, how do I give some money to this?” I couldn’t help but smirk. He approached me as if he were trying to hide secret goods.
“Great question! We have some envelopes on a table at our church, but that doesn’t help too much right now. We have the ability for people to give online too. I’m curious, what makes you ask?” Since he brought up the topic, it is now fair game for discipleship conversation.
“Well, I’ve got this, I know it’s not much…” as he pulled out a small pocket of change.
“That’s awesome! Let’s put it over here and I’ll get it where it needs to go later! Jeff can help me with it so that you know it gets where it needs to go!” I’d learned prior to this point to internally shout for joy about ‘two pennies’, like the woman Jesus mentions in Mark 12:41-44. When we focus on our own needs instead of others discipleship steps, we tend to skip joy-filled celebration and dismiss small gifts to the Lord.
“I’m sorry… I know it’s not much… It’s so little… I don’t have much. I can’t work and only receive my disability. After I pay rent and all, I don’t have much left over…” Roger continued to share how little he had, cowering with embarrassment, explaining why he couldn’t give more.
Not a “Free Dinner”
He may be in a lower income situation; but Roger shows up more than many of the ‘volunteers’ who ‘help’ with the dinner. He is consistently early, always helps set-up. Roger is thoughtful and caring to his core. For example, he gives people rides to dinner (and elsewhere throughout the week).
Roger is a beam of light from the Lord. His smile and joy, even in the midst of his personal grief and pain, reflects the joy and radiance of Jesus. One of our goals that Roger caught without being taught is that the Community Dinner isn’t a free dinner. Instead, the Community Dinner is a church community: people gathering together in the presence of Jesus around the table to give thanks, to honor, and to remember Jesus! Thursday evenings are not any normal dinner; they’re church!
Roger, who in some way, has gone through hardships in life that I can’t explain. One result of his hardship is that it has formed him to be timid in his giving to the Lord.
Rogers’ timid generosity is both a shame and an honor. Like the story of Jesus with people giving in the Temple; the Lord will change hearts to purer worship of Him, too!
Roger’s timid generosity is an honor. The widow had life hit hard; yet she treasures the Lord and His Word and gives of all that she had—her two pennies—in worship. The Lord is changing and forming Roger to someone more like this widow. and bringing people’s hearts closer to Him. As the Spirit does His work, people will learn to honor Him. The story of Jesus and the two pennies still works itself out today.
Thanksgiving All Year Long
Roger is being transformed into someone like the widow, so touched by God’s work that he gives to his fullest extent. What might it look like if your church did the same.
With the holidays coming, many churches are preparing their annual Thanksgiving feast for the community.
That’s great! Keep it up! But can you imagine this: the overflowing of thanksgiving rising into the nostrils of the Lord all year long!
It the idea of thanksgiving rising into the nostrils of the Lord consider Paul’s words in Philippians. He calls their financial gifts “a sweet–smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to the Lord” (Phil. 4:18 NLT).
Visualize how your work and generosity from Thanksgiving can be on repeat each week. The food you prepare for the Lord’s people is a sweet-smelling sacrifice. Your weekly meal could lead to the thanksgiving of God from others all year long!
What if you hosted a feast at the table of the Lord every week? Can you imagine the sweet-smelling aroma rising into the Lord’s nostrils from your work and generosity? Can you imagine the people who would give their praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, all year long, instead of once a year in November? What if the Thanksgiving holiday was the day you ceased from your work, once a year, because many others provide a feast on that day.
Where Thanksgiving Begins
Thanksgiving begins with us (the people of God) setting the table where people can move one step closer to Jesus, where discipleship and evangelism both transpire, where people feast in the presence of the Lord. I think you can do it!
And in case that fear starts to creep in trailing from that Halloween season, rest in the Lord’s Word through Paul:
“And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say,
“They share freely and give generously to the poor.
Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”
For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.
Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.
As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!2 Cor 9:8-15 NLT
Maybe you feel like your annual Thanksgiving meal is your two pennies; that you couldn’t possibly do more. Don’t make the mistake of discounting what two pennies given to the Lord in faith can become. Our Lord is in the work of multiplying a couple of fish and loaves into abundant meals for the masses. All in the work of building His Kingdom.