12 For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God. 13 Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, 14 while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
2 Corinthians 9:12-15
Just this week I received a call from the new Mennonite Central Committee Great Lakes representative to thank East Bend for their generous support of MCC over the years. I couldn’t help but think of the many ways that this congregation has supported, through it’s generous financial gifts, the work of Christ over the whole globe – from Mennonite Central Committee, to Mennonite Missions Network (for many years, East Bend has been in the top 10% of giving churches to MMN), to Southern Illinois Mission Partnership and the Illinois/Pategonia Mission Partnership, to helping with local mission and outreach. East Bend has a long history of offering thanks and praise to God through it’s giving practices.
You see, offering generously, as this congregation has over so many years, shows East Bend’s deep gratitude and thanksgiving for God’s abiding presence and care. Paul, as he writes the church in Corinth, makes it clear that the gifts given bring glory to God – not just because of what they will help to accomplish, but because they help to illustrate the obedience of those giving! It shows a deep level of trust and thanksgiving on the part of the giver!
Tonya and I have been blessed to be a part of this wonderful community of faith over the past 18 years. When we consider the generosity of the prayers, support, friendships, and spiritual nurture that this congregation has offered to us, it is amazing! Thank You, East Bend, for allowing us the privilege to shepherd you, to worship with you, and to grow together as Disciples of Christ.
So often, when we give, we many never see the actual fruit of those gifts. However, I believe that some day we be given the gift of realizing how even the smallest of gifts honored Christ and helped to change a life. Remember the widow’s mite, and remember the fact that God’s desire is for us to be obedient to His call. As we see a need, this is an invitation from God to participate in His work. I think East Bend has shown it’s desire and my hope and prayer is that we can continue to grow in generosity and obedience to Christ’s Kingdom Work in the world – both near and far!
Thank You East Bend! And, as Paul says so plainly, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”
Walking with Jesus,
Pastor Michael Dean