January 29th 2016 1 comment so far
“Many hands make light work.” When I was in high school, my pastor used to say that to us every Sunday. I attended a small church plant that was meeting in a high school cafeteria at the time, so every week, we would have to set up chairs, unload the altar and sound equipment from a few members’ SUVs, and set out all the hymnals, bulletins, and the usual Sunday spread (donuts included)…and then put it all away afterward. While I used to think my pastor’s phrase meant that more help meant less work for everyone, thanks to a special charity project at Stonebriar this week, I have come to see that it can mean so much more.
This week, the Stonebriar family worked to fill an urgent need at a food pantry we support in Little Elm. The food pantry’s shelves were bare, except for a few packages of rice and canned goods. They needed frozen meats, butter, eggs, soup, sandwich stuffers, and loads of canned items to feed families in crisis, and they needed them right away. So our Missional Living team notified the church, and a 24-hour emergency food drive began. The project first made me think of my pastor’s old phrase when the staff received a request to help sort the donations. A few of us lugged bags and carts to the Atrium and started sorting through a mountain of goodies.
I was stunned by how much had been donated in less than a day by our church staff and members. All I had contributed was a carton of eighteen eggs, which seemed to disappear in the sea of totes and boxes that loaded our donation shelves. Once we had transported it all to the Atrium, I thought we would be sorting for hours, but with several helping hands, the work finished quickly.
This supported my initial interpretation of the phrase “Many hands make light work”: The more people assist with a task, more work is completed, often making individual workloads “lighter.” In the instance of a food drive: The more people bring food, the more there is to give; and the more people sort donations, the faster it goes. This meaning is still true, of course, but as our group sorted, I came to see another meaning.
Any of you who have worked on a project with our Missional Living folks—Owen, Karen, and Jean—know there is never a dull moment. The air around every project buzzes with laughter, jokes, and prayerful eagerness. Their big smiles and bigger hearts remind me that work can be more lighthearted when you are on a team of many helping hands. Hoisting bags of cans and juice didn’t feel so heavy amid Karen’s encouragement and corny food puns. (Get it? Corny? Like canned corn? Please have mercy; puns are not my strongsuit.)
Yet there’s another meaning to this phrase that has never been clearer to me—the work we do together in the Spirit is light-giving work. Every sacrifice we make in God’s name—whether it’s our time, our money, or our pantry goods—shines a light on Jesus’s saving sacrifice. The people around us need to see Him, and the Spirit uses our gifts to make His gifts plain to others.
And the work of so many hands shines a light brighter than any one of us could give on our own. My eighteen eggs might be just a little candle, but all our donations combined were a bright bonfire of a sacrifice. (Just to be clear, that was a metaphor—we did not throw the food into a heap and set it ablaze as a burnt offering. Though that would’ve been epic…)
As our Missional Living folks love to say, “God is at work, and we get to be a part of it.” We give out of our gratitude, and we do this in hope that by this light, others will come to see our Savior clearly.
To see the fruits of our 24-hour food drive, check out some photos below, courtesy of Owen Wildman. I hope this reminds you that when our church joins together by the Spirit to do good works, He shines a brilliant light through us.
“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.” Matthew 5:15–16, NIV
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