Your upcoming decision

After much prayer, discussion, amazement and disgust, I have decided how I will vote in the upcoming Presidential election.  My friends and family, like much of the country, seem bitterly divided so I will keep my vote secret in the hopes of pleasing both sides. I will only say I believe this country is stronger than we give it credit, and regardless of who you dislike (or like) we will survive and hopefully prosper in the next four years.
It is interesting that all the discussion and drama about the election comes at the same time most churches are trying to plan financially for the upcoming year.  Those attending services in the past few weeks have probably already heard about stewardship and leadership.  The Interim Minister at First Presbyterian in Donalsonville, Dr. Raymond Guterman, is actually brave enough to be preaching a series on Politics and Religion.   
This past week, I surprised my Mother by showing up at her church as she arrived for morning services at Roswell United Methodist Church.  I initially thought it was going to be another sermon on financially supporting the church.  It really is about more than money though, isn’t it?  
Who hasn’t heard the parable of the talents?  Three servants were given different amounts of silver; five talents, two talents and a single talent.  While it is unknown exactly how much a talent might be worth today, some believe it to be as much as a million dollars.   
The first two servants worked hard and doubled the number of talents they had been given.  The last one buried his talent, so that he would not lose his master’s gift.   
The first two servants were rewarded by their master, who was very pleased at their efforts.  Though they earned a different amount their reward was the same.  It was their work and effort that was measured, not the amount of money they earned.    
The servant that buried his talent was admonished and cast out into the darkness.  It was not that he wasted the money, but rather that he wasted the opportunity.  This parable is about our faith and the way we put it to work.  We should use our talents to glorify God and serve the common good.  Biblically, we are expected to work here on earth using the different talents that God gave us to produce the return expected by the Master.
A member of the Roswell congregation then talked about the gifts that had been given to her during her 30+ years as a member of that church.  She wasn’t talking about money.  She was talking about growing and learning with friends.  She talked about the blessings she received from cutting flowers for new members, and cooking for those with children.  She talked about being surrounded with loving care when her husband passed away three years ago.
As part of their stewardship season, this church is asking their members to post on the internet with the hashtag #RUMCacts, a different act of kindness and giving they have done each day.   I was always taught that the act of kindness was not really from the goodness of your heart if you then bragged about what you had done.   But maybe they are on to something here.
Instead of moaning and groaning about the election for the next week, perhaps we should commit to doing one act of giving to our fellow man.   Like I said, it is not about the money.   Our stewardship and responsibility of our fellow man is much bigger than that, and at the same time much smaller.
What might a week of giving without money look like? Perhaps calling a friend for lunch. Perhaps taking a meal to a worn out young mother with kids at home. A note to a friend you haven’t corresponded with in years. A phone call to a member of your family.
You could pay forward for the car behind you in the drive thru at your favorite local restaurant, something that happens occasionally. Take some flowers to a shut in. Visit someone in the hospital. Walk next door and speak to your neighbor.
Giving to a church is not just defined by the money you put in the collection plate.  Likewise, your love of this country and belief in the best direction for its future is not solely defined by the vote that you make on Election Day.
If you choose to do an act of giving this week, do not just do it for the members of your own church.  Do not just do it for the people who voted the same way you did.   In spreading our good will around to all, maybe, just maybe, we are living the parable of the talents the way it was meant to be lived.
o0o
Dan Ponder can be reached at [email protected]

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