True story from ELCA Churchwide Assembly

As told to me by someone in attendance at the Churchwide Assembly…

On Saturday a worship service was held at Central Lutheran Church, just across the street from the Minneapolis Convention Center.  This congregation has hosted Assemblies, Conventions, and Gatherings of Lutherans for most of its long life.  The sanctuary is large enough to hold 1200 people, so it is comfortable for these large worship services.

The church was full.  The music was sung in both Spanish and English.  The preacher preached a first-person sermon from the perspective of the widow who gave two copper coins.

During the sermon, there was a kernel of an idea that started to emerge way in the back of my brain.  I wanted to give more.  I had already given a great deal at each of the other worship services.  I needed travel money back home, so I wasn’t quite sure just what I could give.  I tried to push aside the now growing in intensity need to give.  It just wouldn’t go away.  The voice in my head said, “You’ve got that emergency stash in your billfold.”  My voice in my head said, “That’s for an emergency!”  The voice in my head said, “You’ve got that emergency stash in your billfold.”  My voice in my head said, “That’s a one hundred dollar bill!”  The voice in my head said, “You’ve got that emergency stash in your billfold and the widow gave all she had, you can keep your travel money.”

The voice in my head won.  I reached into my wallet, pulled out the one hundred dollar bill, and put it in the offering plate (folded so no one would see how much it was) with all the fives and ones.  I noticed that.  Why wasn’t the Holy Spirit speaking to all these others?  I wondered what the counters would think.  For a moment, I wanted change.  And then, I let it go.

The trip home was uneventful, but I had to eat inexpensively.  I didn’t have as much travel money left as I thought I did.

I’m glad I listened to the voice in my head … no, I’m glad I listened to the Holy Spirit.  I’m embarrassed that I argued against it.  I’m the one who received the best gift out of this experience.  It felt quite good to be generous.  Tell the story.  Don’t use my name.

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One response to “True story from ELCA Churchwide Assembly

  1. Cool experience. I’ve had it several times during church services. The one that marked me most happened during a talk by a guy whose calling was to serve the homeless in Philadelphia. He told the congregation at the beginning of his talk that he felt led to ask us to give our shoes, right off of our feet, so they could be given to the homeless in our area (many of whom have nothing to put on their feet). During the entire message I rationalized why I could not give the pair of sandals I was wearing. They cost too much. I love them. They’re broken in just the way I like them. By the time he finished his message and actually asked us to remove our shoes and bring them forward, I couldn’t unstrap them fast enough and I was the first one up to the stage. God had to tug at me during the whole service, but he got through my hard head (and heart) in the end! And I’m forever grateful that he did.

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