I don’t normally expect miracles to appear in the form of a bulk-size package of toilet paper… but then, this is covid-tide, and covid-tide is no “normal” season.
It was in the earliest days of the pandemic, when the combination of supply chain stress and fear-based hoarding resulted in a temporary but widespread toilet paper shortage. Remember that? Remember how the supermarket paper goods shelves were suddenly bare? Not long after toilet paper became a hot commodity, one of our Wesley Church families reached out to me. They had found one store shelf that wasn’t bare… but that shelf was in a box/bulk store, and the only package of toilet paper on that shelf contained eighty individually-wrapped rolls.
Jackpot!, some might say. Eighty rolls? More is better! But not these folks. They needed a few rolls of toilet paper, sure… but they certainly didn’t need eighty rolls. They had enough. They didn’t need more. They wanted to share. So they dropped off most of the bulk box at the church, and we shared their abundance with those who had none. It was an act of generosity, rooted in a spirit of contentment.
In a culture where people were starting to hoard toilet paper… tell me that’s not an honest-to-goodness miracle.
But then, in a culture marked by over-abundance and over-consumption, maybe the kind of generosity that’s rooted in contentment is always a miracle. Throughout these wearying weeks of the pandemic, I’ve been thinking a lot about contentment. This season of covid-tide has presented us with any number of challenges, struggles, and losses… but it has also presented us with some lessons, too. Lessons in resourcefulness. Lessons in patience. Lessons in contentment.
That’s why I’ll be talking about contentment during our upcoming weeks of worship. I’ll be talking about what it means to be content with what we have, that we can give more of what we have… and I’ll be talking about what it means to be discontent with how things are, that we may give more of who we are. Together, I hope we’ll discover more about how contentment leads to generosity — generosity of resources, generosity of spirit, generosity that (in these trying times) can look like an honest-to-goodness miracle.
I’ll also be asking you to be part of that honest-to-goodness miracle. As part of this sermon series, I’ll be asking you to be part of the extraordinary everyday miracles that happen here at Wesley Church by making a commitment to support the ministry and mission of Wesley Church. On our website, you’ll find a pledge card that will help you reflect and plan for how you want to give to Wesley Church in the coming year. Use this card to pledge your support for the ministry needs of Wesley Church (your regular offering to the General Fund), as well as additional support for the building needs of Wesley Church (an additional gift, over and above your regular offering, to the Building Fund).
Of course, I know the realities of this pandemic have had a greater and more devastating impact on some of us than on others, especially with regards to finances. If that is the case for you, know that I wish for this message to cause you no further stress or difficulty. Your church family is here to support you, both practically and spiritually! Please do not hesitate to reach out.
Throughout this season of covid-tide, the people of Wesley Church have been so faithful and so generous, and for those of you who are able, I encourage you to continue on in that generosity. I encourage you to prayerfully reflect on your life, to find true contentment in what you already have, and to generously respond to whatever extent you’re able. You can make your pledge by filling out the digital version of the pledge card. You can continue to make your gifts by sending them in the mail, by dropping them off in the secure offering boxes near the sanctuary entrances (when the building is open), or by setting up an online gift through our website or “Give+” app.
And make no mistake: your gifts will be a part of the miracle that is ministry! Through your gifts, you create opportunities for children and youth to grow as people — and as people of faith. You help meet the needs of our community through the Lehigh Valley Outreach Depot, the Wesley Community Garden, the Bethlehem Emergency Shelter, and the “We Got Your Back” Backpack Program. You create opportunities for people to be connected and supported through prayer groups and support groups. You enable others to grow through Bible studies and book clubs. You support our United Methodist connectional giving, making an impact all around the world. You create the opportunity for God’s people to worship together — whether in our sanctuary, in our parking lot, or halfway around the world! None of this is possible without the kind of contentment that leads to generosity. None of this is possible without your gifts!
Wesley Church, it’s my hope that we will all nurture the kind of contentment that leads to generosity… that God may continue to work new miracles through us!