Note: As we continue to pray for healing for the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, this weekly message will feature guest writers from the Forward Movement staff and board of directors. Today’s post comes from Lindsay Barrett-Adler, Forward Movement’s Development Associate.
“What are we going to do with hundreds of pairs of flip flops and 50-year-old choir robes?” Just over ten years ago, I worked at a non-profit organization to serve friends experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia. Assuming there had been some bizarre mistake, I called the church contact to learn more about this donation. The volunteer assured me we received the right items. She went on to explain that the uncomfortable choir robes were meant to be sewn into blankets (by… someone) and the flip flops were indeed for our homeless guests. In December. In Philadelphia.
How often do we, as charitable Christians, fall into this trap of giving items we did not really treasure in the first place (think the sad can of lima beans for the food pantry) and then convincing ourselves that “they” (whoever that might be) should be grateful to have received anything in the first place?
A few months ago we received the following request from Kevin, who is incarcerated and asked for our help:
“I became a member of the church in 2009 here in prison, and I have never had a nice Book of Common Prayer. I’m wondering if there is any way your ministry would be willing to help me get the deluxe gift edition of The Book of Common Prayer and Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book. I know those items are expensive, and I wish I had a way to pay for them, but unfortunately, I receive no funds to do so. To receive these two items would be a great blessing and will last for years to come.”– Kevin
The knee-jerk reaction from a nonprofit organization might be to give what is best for the bottom line; be generous, but only in a way that keeps us in the black. They should be thankful for anything. But God says an emphatic “No” to this line of thinking. God delights in humanity and desperately yearns for our flourishing. God does not want any one of us to just get by, to have the bare minimum, to scrimp and scrape. Kevin is a beloved child of God and he will receive a beautiful, new prayer book as he requested—thanks to the generosity of our donors.
This season of giving, I am so thankful that Forward Movement says yes to requests like Kevin’s, offering materials and resources out of the gifts first given us. We hope you will consider joining this ministry of abundance by giving at forwardmovement.org/give. We appreciate your support.
Lindsay Barrett-Adler serves as Development Associate at Forward Movement. She is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and Capital University, oddly hopeful Philadelphia sports fan, and mother of three small children.