Read: Exodus 35:10-36:38, Matthew 27:32-66, Psalm 34:1-10, Proverbs 9:7-8
So Moses gave the command, and this message was sent throughout the camp: “Men and women, don’t prepare any more gifts for the sanctuary. We have enough!” So the people stopped bringing their sacred offerings. (Exodus 36:6)
Relate: Today is ash Wednesday. It begins the season of Lent. While I haven’t been raised under those denominations that faithfully follow the tradition I understand its purpose and significance. From what I understand at some point today there will be a service where a priest or deacon will rub ash from the cremated remains of last year’s palms (a time of celebration) on the forehead while saying “Remember that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.” I want to think on that dust, but first… garbage bags.
I remember opening the door and seeing a garbage bag. It wasn’t one of those tall kitchen garbage bags, no this was a yard bag. The big hefty kind and it was about as full as you could get it. Right next to this bag was another. Beside these two were two more and four others beyond those. In fact, our garage was full of these bags and each one of them was quite full as well. They didn’t contain leaves of weeds of any sort of household garbage. Each bag was full of Christmas presents.
Some of the presents in that bag were for me. Some were for my older sister. But far more were for my younger sister who was 12, and my sister who was 11 and brother, 11, and brother, 9, and brother, 8, and for my baby sister. You see, some of their schoolmates decided to go around the community asking people to get Christmas presents for us because my dad, who was suddenly taken to heaven just a month before, could not. The idea snowballed and the generosity of the community was amazing.
React: Ash Wednesday is a time to recognize our frailty and humanity. It begins a season of reflection culminating in remembering Christ’s death and resurrection and the fact that He bore our sins on the cross. If we can truly remember and be grateful for what Christ has done for us it will overflow in our generosity to others. The Israelites prove this. They had been in bondage and those chains were still fresh. So when it came time to build a Tabernacle to the God who had freed them, their generosity was overwhelming. Moses, like our family that Christmas, finally had to say, “Thank you so much but please stop. We have more than enough.”
Wouldn’t it be amazing if this season of Lent the communities around us had to say the same thing. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the people of God, during this season for God, reflected the generosity of a giving God. If my sacrifice for Lent is to go without TV, why not match my cable bill each month in a donation to Samaritan’s Purse. If during Lent I am only to drink water why not give to Blood:Water:Mission so that others might get the wells that will provide clean water. If I’m to give up certain types of food why not give to Convoy of Hope which provides food and medical supplies in emergency areas like NJ recently but also Haiti, Japan, and beyond. Wouldn’t it be amazing if some of these organizations said, “Thank you for your generosity but stop for a bit. We have all that we need and more.