Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).
Every May I’m tempted to do all of the following: get outside, hike, picnic with friends, plant the garden, buy flowers, attend graduation parties, celebrate the end of the school year and eat as much ice cream as possible. The weather in the Midwest is beautiful this time of year, with lots of sunshine making the time ripe for being outside and connecting with others.
I tend to take a similar approach to faith formation with my children: incorporate the newest book in our reading time, find creative ways to pray, volunteer for every opportunity that comes up and attend every church service. But over the years, I’ve learned that doing everything most likely means that I’ll end up not doing the things I actually want or need to do.
The current state of the world also has me feeling that I want to do as much as I can to help. Yet, with the ongoing devastation from the war in Ukraine and the ever-growing need for relief, for example, I’m feeling overwhelmed. How can I help? Not knowing what to do can sometimes lead to inaction.
I’m taking a cue from my children, however, who focus on one thing they love for a long period of time. As soon as the kids get a new book or toy, they settle in with that one item. My son loves his Lego set, building and rebuilding new creations and creating stories to go with them. My daughter loves activity books, coloring and writing on every page. We love to get outside as a family to walk and hike in nature.
Perhaps the question of where to focus our energy can best be asked, “What do we love, and how can we use that love to serve others?”
What if I focused on the things we all love most and used that to guide how we spend our time and focus our energy on others? God’s love invites us to love the people and places in front of us. When we love the world that God created, reaching out and serving our neighbors, we bring God’s kingdom closer to earth. This month I encourage you to reflect on what you love and how that love can spur you to action.
Make a list of all the things you love to do as a family. Pick one thing and see how you can use that to help others. Like to cook and eat together as a family? Make an extra meal and share it with a neighbor who’s going through a hard time. Like to write and draw? Send cards and words of encouragement to relief workers. Love to read? Research literacy organizations in your area to see how you can help. Like to go for walks? Bring along a trash bag and pick up litter in your neighborhood or park.
Visit Lutheran Disaster Response and Lutheran World Relief and research ways you and your congregation can help support their work providing aid in emergencies and helping families restore their lives.
We pray for peace among countries.
We pray for the small daily acts of service done in love for others.
We pray that God’s love will be known by those experiencing hardship.
We pray for relief organizations and nonprofits.
We give thanks for books, games and toys experienced together with family.
We give thanks for the light and warmth of the sun.
We give thanks for neighbors caring for one another.