Giving Thanks for the Absent Guest

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Leah and her son Nick followed their Thursday routine of setting the table for their evening meal. Late work days, school activities, open skate nights, church choir rehearsal, and babysitting for friends meant mealtimes were seldom relaxed. By design, Thursdays were different. They reserved that one day each week for a quiet meal and conversation.

They set three places, a place for each of them and one for a guest. During the week, Leah or Nick would cut a photo of someone from the newspaper, a magazine, or a church publication. The photo, representing their guest, was placed on the extra dinner plate. Having saved money through the week, they placed these funds into the guest’s salad bowl. At the end of the month they would gather the money and give it to the church for their community’s food pantry.

And they prayed prayers of thanksgiving. Taking turns they would pray for the absent guest—imagining that person’s fears and joys, challenges and celebrations. Prayers continued for the food, not only for the homemade pizza before them, but for all who had brought it to their table—for the farmers in central Kansas or southern Saskatchewan who had harvested the wheat, for those who milled the grain and fashioned the crusts, who labored to pick tomatoes in distant fields, who drove trucks, who processed the tomato paste, who rose early to milk cows, and who patiently aged the cheese. They weren’t certain who to thank for pepperoni. Each meal brought a different menu and a different set of folks for whom to give thanks. And they knew who to thank for the earth itself, for the rain and sunshine.

Following the lead in one of Nick’s church school lessons, they called this their “holy habit.”

This stewardship story is from the More than Enough theme materials. The More than Enough theme uses 2 Corinthians 9:6-9 as the scripture basis. This theme invites people to be blessed as they bless others. As God's people invest their gifts and talents on behalf of God's kingdom, they experience God providing more than enough–more than enough to meet their needs, needs in the local community, and the needs of congregational ministry.

Use the Giving: Growing Joyful Stewards in Your Congregation magazine volume 12, Theme Materials Starter Kit, and Companion Resource to create a congregational stewardship emphasis using the More than Enough theme.

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