I am thankful for you!
Dear Friends of the South Georgia Conference, These are not easy days in our beloved church, and, yet, I find myself thanking God every day for the people He has called me to ...
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'Give something away every day'

October 31, 2022
By Creede Hinshaw
It’s the season in the United Methodist Church when many pastors preach a stewardship sermon. United Methodists have traditionally raised the upcoming year’s budget by seeking pledges in a fall campaign. At least one sermon usually comes into prominent play.
That sermon was delivered last Sunday at the church I attend; it was very well-crafted and biblically solid, leaving the listener personally challenged as to whether he/she is laying a foundation for generosity. The preacher didn’t know, however, that I had already seen the sermon illustrated just a few moments before I walked into the sanctuary.
As I drove to church, I ended up following an SUV driven by another church member, although I didn’t know it at the time. I was approximately one block behind this person, and could see her pull into a parking spot alongside the church building. Although I was too far away to identify this person, I had concluded, because of where she parked, that she intended to go to worship. Thus, I was surprised when I saw the woman lock her car and walk in the opposite direction of the front doors of the church.
From my vantage point through my windshield, I could see her walking toward a large magnolia tree on our church lawn. Beneath that tree, enjoying the shade, sits a group of homeless persons every Sunday morning. From afar I saw her approach those people. After a brief encounter, she retraced her steps and headed toward the front door of the church. By then I was easing into my parking spot and could identify this church member, although she was still too far away for me to engage her in conversation.
The worship service, including the sermon, was inspiring as usual. As it turned out, the two of us sat not far apart during the service, and after the benediction I caught up with her to tell her I’d seen her having a conversation with the street people.
This single woman with grandchildren told me that when she attends church, she always brings crackers and snacks to share with these persons. She offers them lovingly and simply and then goes to worship.
My friend, who I know to be generous in other ways, became a sermon for me. She gave a gift not only to the group relaxing beneath the magnolia tree. She gave me a gift, too.
Her act of kindness took me back to a challenge I once received at a clergy conference. The speaker said, “Give something away every day.” Whether it be a tangible gift or a compliment, an act of forgiveness or a handwritten letter, our world would be a far better place if each of us built foundations of generosity. I try to live this out faithfully, but often fall short.
I am a better person both because of what I heard last Sunday. I am a better person because of what I saw. Perhaps these words will be a gift for a reader of this column.
Rev. Creede Hinshaw is a retired minister in the South Georgia Conference. He can be reached at hinnie@cox.net.

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