Farmville Enterprise column November 16, 2016
We just celebrated our annual Consecration Sunday at church. The worship service ended with the congregation bringing forward their 2017 financial pledges while singing a beautiful hymn. “God, whose giving knows no ending, from your rich and endless store—nature’s wonder, Jesus’ wisdom, costly cross, grave’s shattered door—gifted by you, we turn to you, offering up ourselves in praise; thankful song shall rise forever, gracious Donor of our days. Skills and time are ours for pressing toward the goals of Christ, your Son: all at peace in health and freedom, races joined, the Church made one. Now direct our daily labor, lest we strive for self alone. Born with talents, make us servants fit to answer at your throne. Treasure, too, you have entrusted, gain through powers your grace conferred, ours to use for home and kindred, and to spread the gospel word. Open wide our hands in sharing, as we heed Christ’s ageless call, healing, teaching, and reclaiming, serving you by loving all.”
The Reverend Robert L. Edwards, former minister of Immanuel Congregational Church, penned these concise hymn lyrics, summing up God’s bounteous grace and our appropriate response. When we set aside time to consider all that God has done on our behalf and the multitude of good things he has bestowed on us, we can’t help but be washed over with thanksgiving and awe. “Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.” (Psalm 40:5) All that we are able to accomplish is because God gifted us. All that we own truly belongs to him. All that we enjoy are blessings from his hand.
Our natural response after praising and thanking God is to turn to our neighbors with affection and concern. Who this holiday season could use some help? Who might benefit from company or a note of encouragement? Who would be alone this Thanksgiving if we did not invite them to join us? How could we give so that someone else might have? Most importantly, who needs to hear the best news that Jesus loves them and died to bring them new life?