All the Israelite men and women whose hearts made them willing to bring anythingfor the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done, brought it as a freewill offering to the Lord.– Exodus 35:29
As God leads his people out of Egypt, the first thing he does is to give Moses the ten commandments, including the command to set aside the Sabbath to worship and rest. The focal point of Israel’s worship life would be the Tabernacle; a mobile sanctuary. Once they were aware of the need, the people provided the materials used to build the sanctuary willingly and generously. No one was coerced or manipulated to give. It was their own hearts that stirred, and that moved them to contribute. As I read this yesterday morning I wrote, “Lord, I am willing. I want to do my part. I want to bring my gift. I want to be part of something greater, something holy, something beautiful, something that pleases You. May our church be moved to glorify You as we show and share the Way of Jesus.”
I would not be surprised if there are some who doubt they have a gift to contribute. Yet, I find it significant that “anythingfor the work of the Lord” was welcomed (Ex. 35:29). “Anything” is a very big word, and it says to me that from the smallest gift to the largest, the people found that they didhave something to give. Some offered building materials and others their skills in everything from embroidery to construction. Yes, but what of those who had no material gift or specialized skill to offer? It is significant that there is no mention of Moses contributing anythingto the building of the tabernacle, save onething. He blessed them when it was finished! “When Moses saw that they had done all the work just as the Lord had commanded, he blessedthem” (Exodus 39: 43). We may ask, “What can I do?” or we may say, “I’m too old,” or “I’m too young,” or “I don’t have any skills.” Even so, each of us has the power to bless, pray for, and encourage others. I’ve never heard anyone complain about getting too much encouragement. I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’m tired of being blessed. I’m going to find a church where I can be cursed instead.” What can you bless as you think of St. John’s right now? Who can you pray for or encourage? The ability to bless and encourage is powerful; and as Jesus’ followers every one of us can do it. We need only decideto do so.
My friends, as we approach Dedication Sunday on February 24th, it is an important time to remember that there is no better way to use your gifts than in service to the church. Why? Because we are God’s livingtabernacle, whose purpose is to advance God’s eternal realm of goodness and grace as disciples of Jesus. We need people who are willing to make music to the Lord, to paint, create financial statements, build and hammer, run a sound system, cook, organize, welcome strangers, teach, be wise decision makers, visit the sick, and proclaim the good news. It has been said that “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” If you agree, than say this prayer with me, “Lord, I am willing. I want to do my part. I want to bring my gift. I want to be part of something greater, something holy, something beautiful, something that pleases You.” And in praying this prayer together, may we be moved to glorify God as we show and share the Way of Jesus.