Give Your Part
Whether you like hearing Christmas music blaring on the radio or in department stores while discarded Halloween candy wrappers lay in the wastebasket, the holiday season is here and there is no going back. Christmas shopping commercials have been building over the past few weeks and now that we’re post-10/31, expect your visual senses to be overloaded with new, shiny objects that you simply must have in order to be a more complete human being.
Despite my Scrooge-like musings of this time of year, I really do like the music, the tinsel, the lights, and the presents that accompany Christmas. Rarely a celebratory person, I enjoy gathering with friends and family in the warm glowing candlelight of hope, peace, joy, and love. This upcoming season reminds me that I am a part of a grander narrative, a story so encompassing that it includes all of humanity. This season reminds me that redemption begins with giving: giving beyond what the world expects of us; giving beyond what we expect of ourselves; giving beyond limits.
Christina Rossetti’s beautiful poem, "In the Bleak Mid-winter" (performed exquisitely by James Taylor), captures the angst many of us face. With a grudgingly improving economy that has yet to make it to many of our pocketbooks, we fret with the monetary value of our gifts while attempting to play a game of gift price oneupmanship with friends, coworkers, family. My annual hope is that I can find the inner strength to resist the commercial trappings of the season and turn my head and heart toward the deeper grace of Advent and Christmas. When I find the strength, I find it at the Top of Popular when I experience the generosity of this family toward our neighbors, here and around the world.
I field calls and questions wondering how folks can participate in missions, especially during the holidays. This season, here are some ways you can give:
The Thanksgiving Worship Service and Dinner - Sunday, November 23, beginning at 5 pm. We will gather as a family of faith with our neighbors who participate in our Crisis Closet. Not only will we gather to proclaim our thankfulness to God, we will invite our neighbors - some of whom are homeless or in temporary housing - to gather with us for dinner. You can give your part by being here and bringing delicious sides and desserts for dinner. Please bring enough to feed your family and another family your size.
The Crisis Closet - Monday, November 24, and Monday, December 15, both beginning at 10 am. The Crisis Closet hopes to bridge the food insecurity gap for individuals and families each month. In October, over 155 individuals and families received food assistance from the Crisis Closet. You can give your part by giving to our Crisis Closet Fund. Because of the good work of the Middle Georgia Community Food Bank, we are able to purchase food at an average of $.11 cents per pound, giving us a nearly 10-to-1 purchasing power over conventional grocery stores. We are certainly glad when we receive donated canned goods but we could more efficiently and effectively use the monetary funds to feed the hungry in our community.
The Christmas Toy Shoppe - Monday, December 15, 10 am. In conjunction with our Crisis Closet, the Global Women and Circle of Hope host our annual Christmas Toy Shoppe. The Toy Shoppe depends on donated toys and gifts that are resold to guests at substantial discounts. Your can give your part through new toys and gifts, for children, teens, and even adults, to make this meaningful morning happen. By re-selling the gifts, we allow guests to have the dignity of purchasing presents for their children instead of relying solely on handouts. Bring your gifts, with price tags or receipts attached, to the office by Wednesday, December 10.
Care for One Hundred and Prepare for One Hundred. The Ebola crisis of Western Africa long crossed the borders of our congregation as we have welcomed and cared for Liberian students at Mercer. Some of our students know firsthand of the devastation of this disease as they have long dear family members to the disease. Our own Rick Wilson, President of the Liberian Baptist Theological Seminary, has launched Care for One Hundred to address the immediate food needs of folks left at the seminary and Prepare for One Hundred as a way to prepare for the return of Liberians scattered abroad and begin the arduous task of rebuilding and redeveloping the country. You can give your part by designating gifts to “Care for One Hundred” or by contacting Rick Wilson.
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s Global Missions Offering: #EndHunger. Our primary national and state missions partner, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, takes seriously Jesus’ call to feed the hungry and this year the annual Global Missions Offering will support efforts to reduce food insecurity at home and abroad. You can give your part by giving to the Global Missions Offering, using the special Global Missions Offering envelopes located in sanctuary pew racks.
These are but a few ways you can participate in divine generosity this season. Will you join me and give your part to these ministries and others as we seek to resist the urge to simply receive? “Yet what then can I give Him: give my heart,” writes Rossetti. Amen, Christina. Amen.