23 Nov Thanksgiving: Doing What We Can
This is a re-post from Thanksgiving in 2016, but it is so timely with our children once again collecting money for the Presbyterian Mission Agency:
On my desk, right in front of me, is a picture that one of Calvary’s second graders gave me. It is his school picture. This is the same second grader whose face lit up in a 1000-watt smile last Sunday when he realized that it is time for the children of the church to raise money for “chicks and pigs” again. His pure, unadulterated delight over providing sustainable food sources that will benefit children in a developing country just bowled me over. It was a magical moment.
New traditions can be a lot of fun, but of course anytime you try something new there’s always the chance it won’t work. Last year I wanted to engage our children in a hands-on learning experience about giving and stewardship. I gave each of our children a large envelope with his/her name on it and challenged them to do chores, get donations, or give some of their allowance so that together they could buy a family of chickens ($25) or a piglet ($40) for a needy family. I gave them a deadline for the collection and promised that I would have ornaments (in the shape of a pig and/or a chicken) that they could hang on the church’s Christmas tree. If they raised enough money to buy the chickens, I’d have a chick for each of them to hang on a tree branch. If they raised enough to spring for a piglet, I’d have piglets ready to go. In addition, I gave each child a dollar for their envelope as “seed money.”
A few weeks later our four elementary-aged children totally knocked my socks off. For starters, they had all taken their envelopes and colored them, drawn pictures on them and decorated them to make them special. Then, they went to work. They picked up trash in their neighborhood to earn money and they also made generous contributions out of their own resources. Members of the church graciously added more seed money. In the end, the children had enough funds to buy two piglets and three flocks of chickens! We had yellow chicks and pink pigs all over our Christmas tree. It was the prettiest tree we’ve ever had, and the children were thrilled because they knew they had made a real difference. They loved rising to the challenge and this year, they are excited to build on the legacy they started a year ago.
Sometimes as adults we look at the enormity of a problem—like poverty or homelessness or lack of clean drinking water—and we become paralyzed by the fact that we can’t solve the entire issue. Our contribution appears so meager in light of the vast ocean of need, and we wonder if it has an impact. Our children are blissfully and blessedly unencumbered by these burdens. They simply do what they can, fully delighting in and enjoying the experience of being able to help someone. They have a lot to teach us in this regard.
This Thanksgiving, why not focus on the “giving” part of being thankful? How about tangibly expressing your thanks by giving to someone else? And here’s the really important part—whatever you give, give it with abandon, with delight that makes you want to dance, with joy that lights up your heart.
And, oh by the way, Calvary Kids, you rock.
Yours for the Kingdom,