Gifts We Give

Gifts We Give
Clarkston United Methodist Church's Bridges Out of Poverty training

I Thessalonians 4: 9-12

You don’t need us to write about loving your brothers and sisters because God has already taught you to love each other. In fact, you are doing loving deeds for all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. Now we encourage you, brothers and sisters, to do so even more. Aim to live quietly, mind your own business, and earn your own living, just as I told you. That way you’ll behave appropriately toward outsiders, and you won’t be in need.

Paul begins by commending the Thessalonians for the love they are already showing each other and Christians throughout Macedonia. God has taught them to be loving, and they have practiced that lesson well in their home church and neighboring areas.

But now, Paul says, we encourage you to do even more! Paul suggests an interesting list of ways to be more loving: 1)"live quietly" 2) "mind your own business" 3) "earn your own living" or "work with your own hands." I understand how this list of suggestions leads to Paul’s second conclusion, “you won’t be in need.” But for me the real impact of the passage comes from the first part of the consequences of this type of behavior: “That way you’ll behave appropriately toward outsiders” or “that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders.”

I’m sure we’re all planning for holiday (Holy-day) gatherings, the gifts we are going to give, the traditional foods we will be preparing. Do we give much thought to how our preparations appear to our non-churched neighbors? Is it just one more way that we appear to be a closed community with our own traditions that seem to exclude those not part of our tight-knit fellowship?

We have started opening our church to children from the community each Wednesday. We serve a hot, nutritious meal, have play and music time and introduce the children to the Bible. Many of these children reported that they had never touched a Bible. They can now recognize the names of Old and New Testament books, find the books in the Bible and individual verses. Our congregation does not really consider this an evangelism tool, it is simply a way to get to know our neighbors better and help them get to know us.

I’m really looking forward to Christmas and sharing my understanding of this Holy-day with children who are used to only celebrating Santa Claus and trees and presents. I hope that our behavior toward these “outsiders” will help them experience some of the wonder and blessings that we feel at this time of year.

Father of us all, May our Holy-day preparations be a reflection of Your love for us and for all Your children. May our acceptance of others be an invitation to all our neighbors to experience that love with us. In Christ’s likeness we pray, AMEN.

Sue Raymond is a director United Methodist Women and outgoing president of North Georgia Conference United Methodist Women.

Posted or updated: 12/5/2016 11:00:00 PM

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India: Anna Tillou Cottage for Mentally Challenged Women: Providing vocational training skills and shelter for mentally challenged women.

Testimony for December 4-10:

Thanks to the support of the faith community, each Christmas season, children in our centers receive a special gift chosen just for them. Joy and excitement fill the room as each child receives their gift. Every now and then, you notice a child who pauses – perhaps to reflect upon the blessedness of the holy season. -Dave Howery, InterServ-St. Joseph, Mo.

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