How delightful it was to have Grace Lutheran serve as one of many hosting sites for Benton County’s Quilt County. What beautiful quilts brightened the walls of Ronnenkamp Hall this past month. It’s difficult to see the hall return to empty walls.
As we make plans for Consecration Sunday this month I ponder all the ways servants of the gospel contribute to the ministry and mission of Grace. Not only through our monetary gifts does ministry come to life but also through gifts of time, skills, labor, and material possessions. It strikes me that all we give to God is like the individual pieces of the quilts so recently on display. Whatever we contribute individually is just one piece of something that our creator, seamstress God sews together into a big, beautifully unified whole.
Our gifts, just like pieces of fabric — by themselves — are not able to accomplish much on their own. Therefore, we often overlook their importance. We mistakenly think that what little time we have to give isn’t going to be all that helpful, or that so much is really needed, how can the little that I contribute make a difference or be important. What starts out as an underestimation of our gifts then becomes justification to keep what little we have to ourselves. Yet, even our attempts to keep what little we have fail us, as those little pieces get expended in other ways without any accounting as to where they all go and what they all go towards.
Sometimes, rather than overlooking the importance of that which we give, we err in an opposite way by attributing too much importance to what we give. We give so much of our time, for instance, that our pieces of a same color represented by that time overpower pieces of a different color needed to bring contrast, depth and hue.
Regardless, with whatever is given, however it is given, God works wonders. Imagine, though, how creative God is able to be when the material with which God has to work is plentiful little pieces wonderfully varied to bring striking dynamics that better serve the whole.
Well known preaching professor, Fred Craddock, provides yet another image of how small pieces make a difference for the ministry with which we have been entrusted. Says Craddock,
We think giving our all to the Lord is like taking a $1,000 bill and laying it on the table – “Here’s my life, Lord. I’m giving it all.” But the reality for most of us is that [God] sends us to the bank and has us cash in the $1,000 for quarters. We go through life putting out 25¢ here and 50¢ there . . . Usually giving our life to Christ isn’t glorious. It’s done in all those little acts of love 25¢ at a time.*
When we catch a vision of what God is able to do with the little pieces represented by our individual gifts, we rejoice in the importance of certain pieces here and there and their importance to the whole. We acknowledge that all are important and everyone has a piece, no matter how small, that will add richness to what God is making of our gifts.
Ponder these things. Participate in Consecration Sunday. Bring your piece/s and see what God does.
A piece to be pieced,
*Fred Craddock, cited in Leadership (Fall 1984) 47.