December 19: Here Am I; Send Me!
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!” Isaiah 6:8
The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pastor and Martyr
I love this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer about Advent, and it seems pretty perfect for us during this week when we are called to reflect on our work out in our communities and how we ensure that they are looking towards justice and reconciliation. For me, it sums up so much of what I love about Advent, the acknowledgement that we live in a broken and hurting world and that our hope must be grounded in the belief that God is calling us to be better, to experience better and to offer that to others. It’s also a reminder that God shows up in the most unexpected ways, so if we are to see and be present to God, we need to be fully awake when we are out and about in the world. One of the things I love about the United Thank Offering, is that all of the money we give away was given in thanksgiving by someone noticing what good things God was doing in their daily lives. These offerings go on to support new or expanded ministries, in churches, dioceses and provinces led by people who are fully awake in their communities and seeing the needs of their neighbors. Ministries that are often doing as much as they can in spite of dwindling resources and increased need. The leaders, volunteers and participants in these ministries are often ones who epitomize the community of faith that Bonhoeffer describes. For me, UTO is a reminder that we are all connected, that we need each other, and that only together will we find ways to overcome injustice, poverty, ignorance and oppression. My daily thank offerings go on to support ministries who are willing to shout, “here I am, send me”, and that gives me hope that something better is coming, especially on those days when it seems like the work of justice and reconciliation is endless. This week as you reflect on the ways you can incorporate justice and reconciliation into the work that you are already doing in your community, I hope that you’ll also give thanks for all of the ways God is blessing you, and remember that you aren’t alone and that something greater than this suffering is coming.
The Rev. Canon Heather L. Melton, Staff Officer, The United Thank Offering