From the Bishop’s desk: Gesture of generosity

Dear friends,*

I got to work early determined to clear my in-box. I was away last week and the emails had really piled up.

We're unsure how to respond to the cries we hear for help and what to say to the people around us.
“We’re unsure how to respond to the cries we hear for help and what to say to the people around us.”

What I found was striking. There were a number of emails about the storm in the Philippines, asking how Lutherans here could help with recovery in that very poor country. There was one item already about recent storms in the Midwest. I had an email reminding me that drought is bad and life is hard in Namibia where we have Companion Synods. Down at the bottom of my in-box was a question from September about how we could help victims of the flooding in Colorado.

There are lots of places in the world today where people are suffering and in need. One crisis seems to follow another too quickly for us to respond.

And here in our metropolitan area, lots of people are uncertain and anxious about their jobs. No wonder we feel the need to be careful with our finances. We’re unsure how to respond to the cries we hear for help and what to say to the people around us.

All of this, of course, comes at us as Thanksgiving approaches, bringing news about extended shopping hours and the power of the American consumer. Lots of people who don’t know how to help others are certainly being given every opportunity to look out for themselves and buy what they want. It’s all just very sad.

Let us make on December 3 the best gesture of generosity we can.
“Let us make on December 3 the best gesture of generosity we can.”

And yet, the Thanksgiving shopping season has produced a good idea (which I first saw mentioned in the email about Namibia).

Let us all decide to make Tuesday, December 3, into “Giving Tuesday.” Thousands of nonprofit groups around the country are encouraging this. Let us make on December 3 the best gesture of generosity we can.

Let us not to use anxiety and uncertainty as an excuse to fail to do what we can for others. The blessings we have received are given us for sharing.

And this isn’t so much bragging as truth telling: Lutheran relief and development ministries really are the best in the world. Because our regular offerings already provide the infrastructure for relief work, and because there are Lutherans on the ground all over the world to facilitate our efforts, we can with a clear conscience say to people that 100% of their giving goes for the work they want to support.

Consider giving to:

Lutheran Disaster Response – www.elca.org/disaster
Lutheran World Relief – www.lwr.org
Support for orphans and others in Namibian hostels – www.friendsofnamibianchildren.org
ELCA Malaria Campaign – www.elca.org/malaria

Designate your offering’s use or let the organization use it where it most needs. Don’t forget – sometimes the long, slow crises need attention most.

I send this with a sense of hope in the midst of trouble. Lots of things are wrong in our world right now. The Light of the World has not left us here alone to respond.

May the blessings and the joys of Thanksgiving be yours, and yours to share.

In Jesus,
The Rev. Richard H. Graham
Bishop
Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


* The original version of this message was distributed to rostered leaders of the synod on 11/20/13.

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