This is an offering meditation given by Linda Cozad on April 20, 2018.
A minister I heard several years ago gave a sermon discussing the plight of the beggars we see so often on the streets and what might be ... and should be ... our response to them.
As Christians, it is very difficult to walk by and ignore them, yet I think most of us are pretty sure that giving them money only enables the habits which have landed them in their current state in the first place.
His suggestion was a good one. He said: "At least, look them in their eyes. Acknowledge their humanity. Say hello."
Shortly after that, Woody and I went to Washington, DC, he for a business trip and I was on my own. I was walking around Georgetown on a hot DC afternoon around lunch time, and saw a beggar woman sitting on the steps across from one of the many bistros and restaurants there.
Remembering the minister's words, I thought I could at least see if she needed something to eat. So, I asked her if she was hungry.
She replied: "Well, yes, I am. I would like one of those sandwiches that they make over there, the one with ham and cheese, I like Swiss cheese, on toasted wheat bread, with mustard ... but no mayo, I don't like mayo. I do like lettuce and I'd like chips and a coke."
Well, there is a pause for a second, then the thought that I HAD asked her if she was hungry, so I hustled on over to the bistro, submitted her order, "Ham and Swiss, NO mayo," waited, got the order, and took it back to her.
Maybe she said "Thank you," but I really can't recall. I do remember thinking for a long time about her and our "visit".
She is still on my mind. I should have asked her name. But her circumstance was obvious. And, after I got off my high horse about being her waitress, I looked at it from her point of view, as our Pastor Colby challenges us to do in many of his sermons.
For a brief bit of time, she was in charge. She could ask for something she wanted, and she could receive it. She could enjoy it. She had been given a gift, and she could enjoy that gift. No one would take it from her. She had something in her stomach which was healthy and tasted good. For just a little while, all was right with her world.
Our tithes and offerings are gifts we give to two special categories of people: those whom we can name and those we do not know.
Those we can name are the people who serve at First Christian Church.
They shepherd us, inform us, they record our Sunday services, inspire us with their musical talent, pick up after us, make us laugh and comfort us when we grieve. We know all of these wonderful people by name, and we have known them for years.
Those we help outside these walls are mostly nameless to us, but we have known them for years, as well. They have the same needs of comfort, care and concern, as we do, and for a brief moment, we can give that to them with the gifts from God who has given all to us.