PITCHING IN

When the pastor became ill, the small rural community gathered to pray for his recovery and ask for God’s guidance during his lengthy absence. Having first looked at all their pastor’s many responsibilities, those present took an inventory of their skills and talents. “I could take over the capital campaign for the new educational center,” offered an accountant.

“I’d be willing to lead bible study,” said a retired librarian. “I could train lectors and help the kids with the Christmas pageant,” volunteered an amateur actor. “We’d like to visit the home-bound and help with social care,” stated a middle-aged couple, recent empty-nesters. “And I’ll get an email list together and give everyone updates about what’s happening at the parish,” said a young computer programmer.

Source: Elizabeth-Anne Stewart

CONSIDER THIS

To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. 1 Corinthians 12:7

Building the church, is a collective, collaborative effort. Our unique gifts, skills and talents are not just for our own benefit but for the sake of all God’s people (and that’s everybody)!

What are your gifts? What are your skills?
How can you use them to pitch in, and help build the church and the kin-dom?

How can you invest them even further and be an instrument that with others can help heal the world and the planet?

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PARABLE OF THE SPOONS

Rabbi Haim of Romshishok was an itinerant preacher. He traveled from town to town delivering religious sermons that stressed the importance of respect for one’s fellow man. He often began his talks with the following story:

I once ascended to the firmaments. I first went to see Hell and the sight was horrifying. Row after row of tables were laden with platters of sumptuous food, yet the people seated around the tables were pale and emaciated, moaning in hunger. As I came closer, I understood their predicament.

Every person held a full spoon, but both arms were splinted with wooden slats so he could not bend either elbow to bring the food to his mouth. It broke my heart to hear the tortured groans of these poor people as they held their food so near but could not consume it.

Next I went to visit Heaven. I was surprised to see the same setting I had witnessed in Hell – row after row of long tables laden with food. But in contrast to Hell, the people here in Heaven were sitting contentedly talking with each other, obviously sated from their sumptuous meal.

As I came closer, I was amazed to discover that here, too, each person had his arms splinted on wooden slats that prevented him from bending his elbows. How, then, did they manage to eat?

As I watched, a man picked up his spoon and dug it into the dish before him. Then he stretched across the table and fed the person across from him! The recipient of this kindness thanked him and returned the favor by leaning across the table to feed his benefactor.

I suddenly understood. Heaven and Hell offer the same circumstances and conditions. The critical difference is in the way the people treat each other.

I ran back to Hell to share this solution with the poor souls trapped there. I whispered in the ear of one starving man, ‘You do not have to go hungry. Use your spoon to feed your neighbor, and he will surely return the favor and feed you.’

‘You expect me to feed the detestable man sitting across the table?’ said the man angrily. ‘I would rather starve than give him the pleasure of eating!’

Source: Moshe Kranc, The Hasidic Masters’ Guide to Management
Devora Publishing, 2004) pages 108-109

Note: There are variations of the tale across many religions and cultures, it’s message so universal.

CONSIDER THIS

The difference between heaven and hell is not the setting. It’s in the way people treat each other.

So much of how we deal with the world simply comes down to perspective. Heaven and hell, the same place and situation, the only difference the attitudes and approach of the people present.

We can create heaven and hell for one another, right here in this world, by the way we treat each other. We have the ability to cause suffering and pain, and we have the ability to bring comfort and hope.

TEAMWORK

Some people were attending a seminar. The speaker, wanting to wake up the group into full consciousness, decided to start with a  group activity. He gave each participant a colourful balloon. He continued by asking everyone to take some time to blow up the balloon and to write their name on it using the few indelible marker pens scattered around. Then all the balloons were gathered in an adjacent room.

The participants, now in the adjacent room with the balloons, were challenged to find the balloon bearing their name within 5 minutes. Everyone was frantically searching for their name, colliding with each other and pushing around others. There was utter chaos.

At the end of the 5 minutes hardly anyone had found the balloon.

The speaker now asked the participants to randomly pick any balloon and give it to the the person whose name was written on it.

Within minutes everyone had their own balloon.

Source | As I recall it being told during a seminar I attended

CONSIDER THIS

God Speaks to us all a little differently, hoping we’ll tell each other. | John Stewart

THE STORY OF THE RAINBOW

Once upon a time, all the colours in the world started to quarrel; each claimed that she was the best, the most important, the most useful, the favourite.

Green said: “Clearly I am the most important. I am the sign of life and of hope. I was chosen for grass, trees, leaves — without me all the animals would die. Look out over the countryside and you will see that I am in the majority.”

Blue interrupted: “You only think about the earth, but consider the sky and the sea. It is water that is the basis of life and this is drawn up by the clouds from the blue sea. The sky gives space and peace and serenity. Without my peace you would all be nothing but busybodies.”

Yellow chuckled: “You are all so serious. I bring laughter, gaiety and warmth into the world. The sun is yellow, the moon is yellow, the stars are yellow. Every time you look at a sunflower the whole world starts to smile. Without me there would be no fun.”

Orange started next to blow her own trumpet: “I am the colour of health and strength. I may be scarce, but I am precious for I serve the inner needs of human life. I carry all the most important vitamins. Think of carrots and pumpkins, oranges, mangoes and pawpaws. I don’t hang around all the time, but when I fill the sky at sunrise or sunset, my beauty is so striking that no one gives another thought to any of you.”

Red could stand it no longer. He shouted out: “I’m the ruler of you all, blood, life’s blood. I am the colour of danger and of bravery. I am willing to fight for a cause. I bring fire in the blood. Without me the earth would be empty as the moon. I am the colour of passion and love; the red rose, poinsettia and poppy.”

Purple rose up to his full height. He was very tall and he spoke with great pomp: “I am the colour of royalty and power. Kings, chiefs and bishops have always chosen me for I am a sign of authority and wisdom. People do not question me — they listen and obey.”

Indigo spoke much more quietly than all the others, but just as determinedly: “Think of me, you all become superficial. I represent thought and reflection, twilight and deep waters. You need me for balance and contrast, for prayer and inner peace.”

And so the colours went on boasting, each convinced that they were the best. Their quarrelling became louder and louder. Suddenly there was a startling flash of brilliant white lightning; thunder rolled and boomed. Rain started to pour down relentlessly. The colours all crouched down in fear, drawing close to one another for comfort.

Then Rain spoke: 

“You foolish colours, fighting among yourselves, each trying to dominate the rest. Do you not know that God made you all? Each for a special purpose, unique and different. God loves you all. God wants you all. Join hands with one another and come with me. God  will stretch you across the sky in a great bow of colour, as a reminder that you are all loved by God and that you can live together in peace – a promise that he is with you – a sign of hope for tomorrow.”

And so whenever God has used a good rain to wash the world, He puts the rainbow in the sky, and when we see it, let us remember to appreciate one another

Source | Anne Hope based on an Indian legend 

PONDER AND CONSIDER

Consider this story from two perspectives, the macro lens and the micro lens.

  • The macro lens: look outside of you and see what and who the different and diverse colours of the rainbow can be.  Find way to make space for all, befriend all, live peacefully with all.
  • The micro lens: Look inside, look within and consider what could be the many varied and diverse colours inside of you. How do you relate to each?  Do you make space for all the colours within you that need to express and speak their truth?

STONE SOUP

Once upon a time a monk wandered into a poverty stricken village and asked for shelter for the night. “There’s nothing to eat here,” the villagers told him, “you’d better move on!”

“I have enough here to make soup for all of us,”  the holy monk replied, “if I could just borrow a large pot.” Curious, the villagers produced a pot and stood around watching as the monk filled it with water and built a small fire underneath. He then took three round stones from a small bag he carried on his shoulder  and dropped them into the water.

As the water came to the boil the monk sniffed it hungrily saying, “I do love stone soup, but if I just had a little cabbage it would taste even better!” At this, one of the villagers disappeared returning a few minutes later with a cabbage he has been hiding and put it into the pot.

A while later the monk tasted the soup and said “Hmm, this is good, but a couple of carrots would make better still.” Again a villager produced a bunch of carrots and so it went on as potatoes, onions, mushrooms and a bit of salt beef were all added to the pot until there was indeed a delicious meal for all.

For more information on this story go to Stone Soup

PONDER

There are many versions of this old story, but the message is the same. We all have a contribution to make and by sharing our gifts and resources our own lives are enriched.

  • What are your gifts and your talents?
  • What is your contribution that can make a difference?