Bundled up from the cold temps outside, the young mother bounded through the church office door with armfuls of plastic trash bags and paper shopping bags. Inside the bulging sacks were a myriad of clothes; adult clothes, children’s clothes, outdoor wear, casual wear and more – all of it came from the same household. Welcoming her inside the warmth of the building, I expressed, “What’s the occasion?” She responded with something like, “It’s the after Christmas give away.” Immediately, I understood her act of kindness. With every- one in the family receiving one or two or several new items of clothing, this industrious and generous mom sifted through everyone’s wardrobe and pulled out the gently used items that had been relegated to the “wear only if everything else is in the dirty clothes hamper.” She sifted through to find the things that the children had out- grown or the items that were multiples in an armoire in her home. With a bold smile, the bundled mom shared that she was headed to “Grace’s Closet” to give these clothes a second chance at blessing another child, an- other mom, another dad, another family.
“Grace’s Closet” is a large armoire that has had a recent home on the backside of the fireside room, but this week “Grace’s Closet” has been moved to the atrium between the education and sanctuary buildings. The faithful WMU are always receiving clothes as a ministry of our church from families and individuals who want to donate, and they take these items to a community collection site and distribution center to assist families of our community in need. Throughout the month of January, let’s “give together” and bless others with the clothes that hoard our closets. Let’s share the bounty that we have received and share with other adults, teens and children. Take the challenge and give away a whole outfit: shirt, pants and shoes. Take the challenge and give away a sweatshirt or coat for each one you received as a gift this Christmas. Take the challenge and reduce the number of clothes or pants by 20% or even more. I dare say you will not miss the additional clothing, but even more, I dare say that you will receive much joy giving away a few of your favorite treasures. Let’s flood the atrium with gently worn, good clothes, and let us love on our neighbor, even as we love ourselves.
God teaches us that for every gift received, the recipient ought to respond in return by giving. As we receive the blessings of a bountiful harvest, we are to give the first-fruits to the Lord. As we receive the gifts of God’s goodness, we are to give to the Lord a tenth as offering of praise and thanks. As we are given our “5 loaves and 2 fish,” we are to be willing to share with others. As we are given the breath of life, we are to be willing to give our lives away in order to care for and love others as Christ has loved us. Every gift encourages us to be conduits of grace and pass along the blessing of the gifts to others. This is the way of discipleship; this is the way of Christ!
Go ahead and go to your closet and your chest of drawers now, sift through your wardrobe, and bring all that you need to bring; give it away; yes, give it away, and know that in doing this one act “inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it unto Christ!”
Joy for the Journey, Jay