This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Many gifts, many people

Grace and Truth

She loves church and would attend every church activity if she could, but she is dependent upon the generosity of others to provide a ride. By human standards, her mind is not as mature as her body. It never will be. She lacks social finesse and her body moves awkwardly. But she is the most loving of human beings. She has an amazing ability to remember people’s names and the important details of other’s lives. She uses this gift of remembering to connect with others and, as she does, one can’t help but feel cared for by this little woman whom many would overlook.

“Now there are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service in the church, but it is the same Lord we are serving. There are different ways God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work through all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NLT).

He is dirty and smelly. A combination of mental illness and alcohol often leave him in such a fog that people worry how he will interrupt the worship service each week. But when he opens his mouth to sing there is nothing foggy about the clear tenor that erupts in joyous praise to his maker. His singing voice lifts the spirits of those around him and when he stops singing, it seems like a little bit of heaven lingers in the air.

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NRSV).

He is disorganized and unconventional. If his items make it into the church bulletin, they have arrived at the last minute. More often than not, he needs to announce what he’d intended to have printed because he has missed the secretary’s deadline for bulletin items. His announcements are difficult for the older folks to follow, because his thoughts fail to flow in a straightforward manner. But he has a heart for God and a heart for the youth of the congregation. No one can demonstrate God’s love or communicate God’s words to the youth any better than he and they love him dearly.

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NIV).

She is shy and would prefer not to be noticed. She rarely speaks up in any class or meeting and when she does, her words are stuttered and halting. Few know her well and even fewer seek her out. But if someone has a question about God’s creation, she is the one to ask. She knows how to care for the rhododendron and what attracts the wrens. During the spring and summer months, her garden feeds many more mouths than those of her family. In the fall she blesses others with apples from her trees. And in the winter, she often spends her time baking so that she has something to share with the elderly neighbor down the street.

Thank you, God, for varieties of gifts poured into varieties of people, each one created in your image. Open my eyes to see you in each one, particularly in those with whom I have difficulty. Amen.

Donna Mast is co-pastor of Scottdale (Pa.) Mennonite Church

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