By Rev. Dawn Livingston*
As we approach Christmas, the topic of giving is common. Not long ago during our food pantry distribution at the Epworth Center (Southern Hills District), we had a young woman come in who was obviously very uncomfortable and embarrassed in having to receive help. We welcomed her and talked with her, trying to alleviate some of her discomfort.
It was her first time at our food pantry, and we were trying to take away her sense of embarrassment in needing a little help; we ALL need a little help from time-to-time. The help may not be in the form of receiving food at a pantry, but we recognize the importance of loving our neighbors as Jesus loved and we are blessed to serve others.
As she was getting ready to leave and the other servant volunteers were carrying her bags out, she stopped, and quietly whispered, “here, this is for you,” as she reached out her clenched fist. I held my hand out, not quite sure what she was going to give me, and she dropped a few quarters into my palm.
Honestly, I didn’t even know how to react. I think a hundred things flew through my mind at that very moment: She should keep this; she could use this for something; what an amazing gesture. I smiled at her and thanked her, telling her that it would go towards helping another individual or family that needs help.
It wasn’t until after she left that it completely hit me. ”Here, this is for you.” In the book of Mark we find the passage of the widow’s mite.
“Jesus sat across from the collection box for the temple treasury and observed how the crowd gave their money. Many rich people were throwing in lots of money. One poor widow came forward and put in two small copper coins worth a penny. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I assure you that this poor widow has put in more than everyone who’s been putting money in the treasury. All of them are giving out of their spare change. But she from her hopeless poverty has given everything she had, even what she needed to live on.” (Mark 12, CEB)
This young woman’s “mite” at Project Manna convicts me, and I wonder if it convicts you too? How often do we give out of our abundance, whether it’s giving of our time, talents or our treasure? When we have enough or more than enough, is that when we choose to give? Or do we give with our hearts, sacrificing our own sense of “having enough” so that we can serve God while serving others?
It’s my prayer that we can fully give our offering to God — our time, treasure, talents — as we say: “here, this is for you.”
At the Epworth Center we have many opportunities to give and reach out to our neighbors in need as a beacon of light and hope. As we ready for Christmas, we are in full swing with toys, clothing and food for 190 individuals / families in the Union Local School District. We assist more than 15% of the number of students in Union Local through Project Manna.
We are also preparing for our annual party for our local group home girls. For Christmas, we are in need of food and nonperishable items, monetary donations, prayer cloths, and cards of encouragement. If you knit or crochet, prayer cloths are a great way to spread the love of Christ! The pattern we use is available on our website, although we have many who are using other creative patterns.
Learn more our seasonal and year-round opportunities and ways that you can get involved by visiting The Epworth Center online.
*Rev. Dawn Livingston is executive director of the Epworth Center.