Cathleen did such a wonderful job on Sunday at our church with the offering meditation, that I thought I should reproduce it here, to gain it the wider audience it deserves 🙂 So, over to Cathleen:
I don’t know about you, but parenting has taught me a lot about myself. Sadly, a lot of what I’ve learned has been pretty ugly. Before I was a mom, I never realized how selfish, impatient, and short-tempered I could be. Now I know all too well.
But parenting has also taught me some amazingly great things – some are very vibrant spiritual truths. And thinking about doing the offering meditation on Mother’s Day, I thought about all the many gifts of love I have received over the years. I have brought 3 to share with you:
This folder of love notes from my kids, I’m going to call overflowing love.
This toy that you may have seen the kids play with, I’m going to call engaging love.
And this painting, I’m going to call intimate love.
The overflowing love is a collection of notes that I have received from my kids since we moved here. I delight in opening up my desk files full of bills and seeing this stuffed folder of love. I delight in the volume of it. I delight in the messy, misspelled, mushy sentiments of it. I delight in the markers of growth and development in it.
This Kendama represents engaging or shared love. My kids woke me up last week one day while Glyn was out of town, to tell me that they found THE perfect gift to give me for Mother’s Day. They had been looking online while I was asleep, and while researching items they wanted for themselves, they found one that I would love and have to have. You see, I love zebras, so when they found this toy with zebra print, they thought of me. I did not dissuade them because I could not imagine quenching the exuberant twinkle in their eyes. I also think that God gave me a flash of inspiration to realize that this was a gift of sharing what they love with me. They wanted me to love and engage in what they love.
This last gift represents intimate love. Glyn gave me this painting for Mother’s Day 7 years ago when I was pregnant with Cicely. Glyn does not particularly like art in general. He could live in a house with bare walls and be perfectly happy. But he has taken notes (sometimes literal notes) over the years when I make a comment about something I like. He knew I loved this artist. He knows that 3 of my favorite things are in this painting… zebras, books, and bed. And although he may not have realized it at the time, this gift has depth to it for me. When I look at it, I remember a deep longing prayer I had at the time. I remember my big pregnant self, laying in bed, looking at this painting, and praying that this baby would be a girl with brown curly hair. So now this gift also reminds me of answered prayer, the gift of Cicely.
As we give today, our hearts are laid bare before God. Whether we give with overflowing love, with a desire for engaging love, or with an intimate knowing love, God delights in them all. And we receive something, too. When we give cheerfully, we get to connect with God. I don’t know about you, but I have given a gift out of obligation and resentment before, and although the gift is still appreciated, I get little more than maybe pride out of it. When I give cheerfully with joy, I am actually bonding with God. I am loving him. I am marking the history of our relationship. I am revealing that I have paid attention to what God loves. God doesn’t focus on whether we give perfect gifts. Our overflowing love matters more than perfection. And the time and effort represented by our gifts are known by Him.
If you are visiting today, please feel free to let the trays pass you. And Church, as we give today, let’s pay attention to how we are giving. Whether you give online or place your offering in the tray, let’s not just do it out of habit, but do it out of love. Let’s allow offering to be a tangible symbol of our love for Christ.
Heavenly Father, we love you. Thank you for knowing us deeply. Thank you for your good gifts. Please help us give cheerfully, and please help us to spend time knowing you and giving with overflowing, engaging, and intimate love.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.