Scriptures: Psalm 146 and Mark 12:28-34
Have you asked yourself that question before? Maybe you haven’t used those exact words but you have probably wondered as you were getting ready to go somewhere. What should I bring? What should I pack? What things do I need to be prepared? What do I need to prepare to offer?
Every year our family shares the story of the first Thanksgiving my mom and dad were married. They had just been married about six months and were figuring out all their new holiday traditions. They had decided that this year they would spend Thanks-giving at my Dad’s parents’ house, just across town from their apartment.
At my Grandparents house, they were making preparations and plans for the holi-day meal. My grandmother was a woman who could put Martha Stewart through her pac-es. Her house always looked like she was waiting for the film crew to show up; magazine-worthy organized linen closets; towels sorted by both size and color, evenly folded; a kitchen where everything was just-so, not a spare bill lying around; the silver always pol-ished to perfection ; the pantry, a cook’s dream. She was meticulously planning the Thanksgiving meal—a combination of family favorites and new recipes clipped from the paper that she had been collecting.
My mom (a decent cook by this point in her life having cooked meals for her family of 7 since she was about 12), offers, as one does, ‘What shall I bring?” My mom was think-ing, Oh, she’ll hand me one of those new recipes clipped from the newspaper or ask me to bring the mashed potatoes, or a pie.”
But no, my grandmother’s response was quick and without hesitation. To the question, “What shall I bring?” my grandmother responds: ‘The turkey.” The turkey. Bring a cooked turkey. Wanting not to let my grandmother down, she said, “Sure, happy to!”
Thanksgiving day came, my mom rose early, prepared the turkey. The stuffing, too, of course because we are a stuffing-cooked-in-the-bird kind of family. She watched it all day. It was finally done and time to get the turkey to her in-laws. Quickly, of course, so it arrives hot and juicy. No one wants to put it back in the oven to reheat it and dry it out.
A hot, 20-pound turkey rests on my mother’s lap in the front seat of the car. They had made all the preparations—foil around the bird, and a towel for my mom’s lap to protect her from the hot roasting pan.
The driver, my dad, took care but still the juices were sloshing around in the pan some seeping out and dripping down the sides, of course. The longer the trip took, the heavier and the hotter the pan got on my mom’s legs. And you know what? They arrived, completely un-scathed, the turkey in good form and celebrated a wonderful meal.
‘What can I bring?”
‘The turkey.” “Sure, happy to.”
Our gospel reading this morning reminds us of familiar words, the greatest command-ment (which is a rule given by God) Jesus says is to Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Anything missing?
Not really. Jesus tells us that the most important thing that we can do is to love God with all that we are, and all that we have, with every gift bestowed on us—because everything we have is a gift from God.
Our Stewardship theme this year is, “What shall I bring?” If we put the question in con-versation with our Gospel reading, following God’s commandment we are reminded that we should bring all that we are and all that we have to God. So that means we bring all sorts of Gifts to God. We bring our gifts of creativity and teaching, we bring our gifts of leadership and new ideas, we bring our time (volunteering and helping out), we even bring our money.
Sometimes it might feel like we can’t bring everything because some things are hard to bring. Also, sometimes we work against ourselves saying things like:
I’ve never done that before. Bring YOUR gifts anyway!
I’m too old. Bring YOUR gifts anyway!
I’m too Young. Bring YOUR gifts anyway!
I don’t have enough money. Bring YOUR gifts anyway!
The church doesn’t do it that way. Bring YOUR gifts anyway!
I don’t have enough time. Bring YOUR gifts anyway!
I’m new here. Bring YOUR gifts anyway!
But God invites us to bring everything to God because that is how we show God love. In Jesus’ own life he modeled this for us, and we remember that every time we come to this table. We remember all that Jesus offered: all that he was, and all that he had. And Jesus offered those things so that, when we feel like we can’t bring one more thing, we can be restored by his whole and complete offering at this table where we remember him and all that he brought.
What shall we bring? What shall I bring? What shall you bring? All that we have, and all that we are because, in our offerings, we are met by God’s complete and total love.