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December 13, 2017

December 13, 2017

Dear Friends,

 

I read a blog post this week that made me want to grab my credit card and go to straight to Walmart. 

 

It also reminded me of how Matt and Jen Gurney, together with their children, are using the Advent season as a time when they proactively, daily find ways to bless others. 

 

Here’s what I read this week from blogger Catherine Wilkinson:

 

Rather than buy ourselves and our young adult children gifts this Christmas, we decided to walk the walk.  You know.  That walk where you stop indulging yourself with increasingly frivolous items and actually reach out to help others not as fortunate.

 

We bought several Walmart gift cards with funds we would have used to buy our gifts for one another and our kids.   Then our daughter and daughter-in-law (who is pregnant with twins, our 10th and 11th grandchildren, so yes, we have more than enough blessings in our life), Mr. Wilkinson and I went to our local Walmart yesterday, a beautiful Sunday morning.  Not quite knowing how to do what we wanted to do, just praying we’d get it right and not embarrass anyone or get arrested.  Our girls decided on an approach, took the gift cards, and my husband and I stood at a distance, ready to help if needed.

 

The girls walked along and watched the check-out lines, and when they felt a tug at their kind hearts, they went up to people ready to check out and asked,

 

“May I buy your groceries?”

 

The initial responses were ones of shock and disbelief.  No one was rude, or dismissive.  They just wanted to know why.  The girls answered that they were part of a family who decided this was the way they wanted to celebrate Christmas.  Then a few asked if they were with a church or an organization.  No, the girls said, we are just a regular family and this is our gift to you!  No strings attached!  From us!

 

Then the miracles came.

 

The first one, a young Mom, with a cart of food and just a couple of tiny presents for her little son, broke down in sobs, confiding that she “didn’t know how I could afford any of this”.  Her hugs and her tears washed away all the nervousness our girls felt at first.  They helped her bag her groceries and they all held one another for a long time, before this young woman left the store, trying hard not to sob.

 

The girls then quickly went to an obviously worn-out and defeated looking Dad, with 4 young sons.  Beat down and broke, you can bet.  In the check-out line, counting the bills in his wallet, nervously.  “May I buy everything in your cart, sir?” they said.   Again, the disbelief, the tears, the hugs, and the sincere, very heartfelt gratitude. That seismic shock you felt at 10:47 am yesterday?  That was a huge crack opening in my cynical heart as I watched this.

 

Two elderly ladies, with one cart between them, barely full with just the most very basic things.  A 2 pack of toilet paper.  A small package of ham.   A little pumpkin pie with red bow on top.  Cans of cheap cat food.  I doubt they had cats.  They were the most unbelieving of all  – they were literally paralyzed with shock.  One had dementia and couldn’t really understand what was going on, but the other couldn’t believe “anyone cared about us” and “no one has been this kind to me in 75 years”.

 

There were people who smiled and merely told our girls, “No thank you!  We are very blessed and in a good place, so please help someone who needs it!”  Pay it forward without getting a thing.  I like it.

 

The disabled veteran in a wheelchair, the lonely, unhappy looking girl, the young family with formula and diapers, the older lady who reminded our daughter of her beloved, departed grandma.  Their surprise, their joy, their relief, their gratitude.  All of them giving us more than we could ever give them.

It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced

 

You can read the rest of the story here. 

 

Can I suggest that you ask Matt and Jen about their experiences in giving during this advent season?  And then ask yourself what you could do to bless someone else this week.

 

There’s only one statement from Jesus that is not recorded in the gospels but that the Apostle Paul had heard and passed on to the Ephesian elders in Acts. 20.  You know what it is?

 

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

 

Amen.

Have you been thinking (or even praying) about who you might invite to join you at our Candlelight and Carols Christmas Eve service?   The service will start at 5:00 on Sunday evening and will last for one hour.

And if you’re already starting to think about 2018, the Spring 2018 Perspectives on the World Christian Movement class will take place at The Summit Church in North Little Rock, beginning in January.  This will be the 18th consecutive year that these classes have been offered in the Little Rock/NLR metro area.

 

Classes are on Tuesday nights, beginning on January 9 and continuing into early May.  Find out more here, or contact Don Parish with any questions.  Donparish47@comcast.net

Last week, I shared with you about a very generous anonymous gift that was given to our building fund - $100,000!

 

Apparently, giving is contagious!  This week, we’ve had someone step forward with a special year end gift of $10,000 for the building fund.

 

But there’s a catch this time.

 

Before this donor will release the funds, he wants to challenge others in the congregation to join him.

 

So instead of just writing us a check, he’s pledging to match every building fund gift we receive this month, up to a total of $10,000. 

 

That means for us to receive his gift, we need your help.  Would you pray about making a special year end gift to the RCC building fund?  You can drop your gift in the offering box or mail it to us.  Just note that it’s a building fund gift.  As soon as we receive a total of $10,000, our donor friend will write us his check for that amount.

 

Please continue praying for the building project.  We hope to have an update for you shortly after the new year.

The Apostle Paul’s kinsmen – his fellow Jews – had lots of knowledge about God.  But Paul tells his readers in Rome that they had rejected God because, although they were zealous, they lacked knowledge.

 

So what knowledge did they lack? 

 

We’ll talk about it on Sunday.

 

See you in church!

 

Soli Deo Gloria!

Bob Lepine

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