Pay It Backward

Right now it is nine days prior to Thanksgiving Sunday, and if all goes according to plan you should be reading this either just before or just after the Thanksgiving sermon.  Hopefully not during.


At the Highland Park site we already know what is going to happen on Thanksgiving  because we figured it out last night at design team (which you can be a part of if you want).  We talked about the text—Hebrews 13:15-16—and how we could make it stick in your mind.  We talked about distributing little plastic hands and doing painting and other good stuff that I don’t want to list here just in case it doesn’t happen on the day.  Nothing worse than disappointed expectations.


While we were discussing the text at design team, I got all worked up remembering past attempts here at the church to live this text out—to offer the “sacrifices of praise” and to “share with others”.   They were fun episodes.  One of them in particular involved dropping a stack of twenty dollar bills on the table in a Sunday School class and inviting the class members to take a few bills and go do some good with them.  Lots of stories came out of that.  Another one was a private initiative, the stories from which could go on for a long time.  I spare you.


We’ve all familiar with things like the movie “Pay it Forward” and the Random Acts of Kindness movement.  No doubt many of you could tell stories in this regard; the benefits of giving and receiving in unexpected ways. Great stuff, we all agree.


As good as those things are, I’m thinking that the disciplines called for in the Hebrews text are another level of good.  Random acts of kindness are great; sacrificing “unto the Lord” is that much better. Paying it forward is terrific; giving out of deep gratitude for all that has gone before is that much better.  It’s like paying forward and backward at the same time, with no end in sight.  You can’t out-give infinite Goodness.


So just because I know what’s coming in the sermon in nine days, I’m going to go find some cash right now and start looking for places to “do good and share with others”, just like it says in Hebrews. Not just to have fun—which I will—and not just to feel good, which I might, but to more fully participate in grace and hope and redemption.  “Thy Kingdom Come”, in effect.


Not a bad way to do Thanksgiving, I’d say. Think of it as Halloween early and in reverse.