A few evenings ago as I was leaving Church, I descended down the stairs towards my car, quickly climbing in. Mid-November evenings start getting cold (especially for my Texas bones) and it gets very dark being at a property surrounded mostly by farmland. As I began driving down the long driveway, I noticed something that appeared to be blocking my view near the bottom left corner of my windshield. Reaching forward, I tried to see if there was a piece of paper that may have slid across my dashboard. Nothing!
“Maybe someone left a flyer on the outside of my windshield?”, I thought. If you have ever visited the new church property, you would understand why this seems absurd! The Church is set back about 700 feet from the road on a very long driveway and the absence of any foot (and car) traffic may even make you forget that you’re in New Jersey at times. But – there was either something wrong with my vision or – there had to be something on the windshield!
So I pulled over, rolled down the window, reached out and collected what appeared to be a USPS Priority Mail envelope. As I examined the package, I noticed that there was no signature, no return address, and that it was sealed with packing tape. My initial thoughts were:
A. One of the neighbors was welcoming St. Anianus Church to the neighborhood
B. I was being served with a lawsuit…yeah, don’t ask! Maybe I’ve watched one too many movies in my time.
or C…yup it was pretty much A or B.
As I peeled opened the large envelope, I found a smaller one inside (truth be told, for about 2 seconds I thought “maybe this is a practical joke, and there is going to be smaller and smaller envelopes inside). As I opened the smaller envelope, I became completely confused. The envelope was was stuffed full of $100 bills! That was it! I looked for a note inside…nothing! The only communication I could find was that which was written on the front of the smaller envelope:
“Pray for me…for the homeless”
For the past few years, our church family has been blessed enough to be able to develop friendships with the homeless and under-resourced in Trenton. Our mission has been to simply extend God’s love, a message of hope from the Bible, and a meal (and in the colder months, some items to help keep our friends a little warmer). We call this ministry Lighthouse, because we feel that God has called us to extend His light and love to a population that is trying to navigate some pretty extreme storms in their lives.
As I looked at the envelope, 3 things came to me:
1. People have a deep yearning to extend love and grace to those in need; they’re just looking for opportunities to do so.
2. The Church is Christ’s tangible presence in the world. Be purposeful about offering yourself to God for the sake of the world.
3. In a time when most people expect acknowledgements, awards, or accolades for anything they do, there are still those who offer of themselves without wanting anything in return. Francis of Assisi once said: “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall enjoy everything.”
This Thanksgiving as you discuss with your friends and family all that you have to be thankful for, let’s also think about ways we can bless others in such a way that renders glory to the One who constantly pours out His grace like rain upon us.
I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”