I've been thinking about the beauty in this, not just visually, but how beautiful it was that people brought the literal fruits of their labor and made an offering of them. That right along with giving thanks to God was giving to others. I've often peered in to the large cardboard boxes that grace the foyer of many churches. Here the collections for the poor usually contain an abundance of things like ramen noodles and creamed corn. I'm thankful that people are giving, but I can't help but wonder- is that the best we can do? I'm as guilty as anyone. I've cleaned out my cupboards and dumped my extra cans of food in the box, the ones that that aren't organic or healthy or "good enough" for my family. I know that we are to give the first fruits, not the leftovers, but it seems that too often my gift is given out of obligation, not love, and that it's the dregs and not the cream.
It often seems that beauty and wonder are missing from the worship we offer God. Maybe this is part of why so many people are attracted to the Orthodox Church- they have maintained a beauty that touches the senses, but that also echoes with mystery and eternity. Maybe people are tired of sitting around tables in gymnasiums to worship the Creator. When we visited cathedrals in Europe I was amazed at the beauty and the extravagance that was evident there. I know that any building can just be a sepulcher housing dead mens' bones but I think there is something inherent in beauty that draws us to God. Something that inspires us to present whatever we have back to Him and believe that He will make it beautiful. Like the woman who spilled her tears over Jesus' feet and washed them with her hair. It was done in love and humility and to me it was one of the most beautiful acts of worship recorded in Scripture. She was forgiven much and she loved much.
So I think that thankfulness and giving are intertwined. When I realize that all I have is a gift I don't deserve it causes me to want to give to others the lavish love that's been poured out on me. I have so much to give thanks for and along with that I want to learn to give abundantly, joyfully, to take what I've been given in this life and offer it back to the Giver. I want to make something beautiful and delicious, not only for my family, but for the poor and homeless. I want to love and serve my husband in ways that bring him joy and peace and to make our home a beautiful sanctuary where people can find rest and and be drawn closer to Jesus. And I want whatever is on my table to be offered with love.
This is a repost from six years ago, but I was thinking again of those long tables laden with food and thought I'd reshare. I am challenged once again by reading these words; is my giving beautiful? And in the year after I wrote this, we too found our hearts at rest in the Orthodox Church.