Focal verse

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God (Hebrews 13:16).

Reflection

Every year our area churches host a back-to-school clothing drive. Donations pour in from the community for us to sort and organize. This year our whole family helped ready the clothes for sale. My children, 6 and 4, enjoyed moving bags and boxes. They could read some of the labels and help distribute clothes. They laughed and smiled. I watched other volunteers smile at their joyful participation. I reminded my kids, “You’re helping get ready so families can be prepared for school.” By showing up to volunteer at the clothing drive, we gave an offering.

Congregations talk a lot about giving: money to sustain ministries and keep the church building open, and time to worship, prepare food for others, serve on a planning committee or telephone members. All these are ways God’s people share their offerings. We give in response to what God is doing in our lives and the world. We give because of what God has already done for us. We give as a means of saying thanks for all God has given us—love, grace, forgiveness and the name “beloved child of God.”

Sometimes giving can seem like a chore. The more families and church communities point to God’s action in the world, the easier it becomes to join in offering our gifts and serving others.

You can model generosity by sharing your time, talents and treasures within your church and community, and bringing your children along with you.

In worship, your children can help collect the offering and put in their own money. They can also talk with their families and church members about the gifts they have been given. A child who likes to draw might offer their artwork to hang in the church building or be used for a bulletin cover. The child who sings or dances could share their talent in worship or with a small group.

As our children grow, we can notice their gifts and passions, remind them of God’s goodness in their lives and encourage them to give joyfully and generously.

Practices

  • Make a list of all the things each member of the family is good at, and talk about how you can offer those gifts in service to others. For example, those who like to draw can make cards for health care workers and nursing home residents, and those who like to cook can prepare a meal for a new family or someone welcoming a baby.
  • Read Maybe I Can Love My Neighbor Too (Beaming Books, 2019) and talk about the ways kindness and creativity can be shared with others.
  • Invite your children to start their day by joining you in the offertory prayer found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, a reminder that our lives are gifts to be shared with others: Blessed are you, O God, maker of all things. Through your goodness you have blessed us with these gifts: ourselves, our time and our possessions. Use us, and what we have gathered, in feeding the world with your love through the one who gave himself for us, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen. 

Prayers

We pray that your mercy will be known by those who hunger, thirst and need clothing.
We pray for schools and all who teach our children.
We pray for the work of the church to share God’s love and grace.
We give thanks for friendship that spans distances through letters, phone calls and videos.
We give thanks for volunteers who offer their time and love to others.
We give thanks for the changing seasons and the chance to bear witness to God’s creation.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen.

Service opportunity 

Reach out to your local school district to see if it needs supplies, funds or books. Your family could donate money for children to purchase books at the school book fair or could adopt a classroom and provide needed materials.

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Mo. Her website is kimberlyknowlezeller.com.

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