It’s festival time again. I wonder if it will be sun cream or wellies! It’s wonderful to see so many people from the community, gathering to have some fun and quality family time together. I’m looking forward to having a nose around the different stalls, especially the second hand charity corner. My daughters, no doubt along with many of your children, will be making full use of the inflatable slides and ice cream van. As a church we will be on the field with some fun activities for the young ones and hopefully back with the penalty shootout for all those Gareth Bale wannabe’s. I love the fact that my family can just enjoy the day, like all other families, relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.
As I was thinking about the festival this year and all the wonderful goods people sell for their individual causes, it got me thinking about a talk I heard on Easter Sunday on our Isle of Man adventure. A lady, visiting the local Methodist church, gave a little talk and explained how one day, whilst visiting a charity shop, she saw quite a few ‘sad’ looking teddy bears, just waiting to be taken home and loved. It was their day – she bought them all! For some time she gave these teddies a new home, but realised that it would be a selfish thing to not share this love for the teddies with other people. That Easter Sunday morning we saw a line-up of ‘sad’ looking furry friends but she offered to share them with the children and gave a challenge: ‘choose a teddy bear, take it home, care for it for some time and then give it to someone else – someone who looks sad, who might be going through a tough time and needs some encouragement’. I thought, what a wonderful opportunity to bless another person with a gift that has been looked after and loved – something that we may see as valuable and would be a sacrifice to give away. What an opportunity to give without the expectation of receiving – to give so that we can encourage and bring a moment of joy to someone’s life.
For us, as a body of people who believe Christ Jesus to be Lord of our lives, we see that it is Him who has inspired many men and women over the generations to give freely to those who have little and those needing care, love and encouragement – all because He gave Himself, His life, freely for us. In one of the gospels, Jesus says ‘For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life’. God the Father gave the most costly gift He could possibly give – His Son – and it is this that drives us to do what we do today. He commanded His disciples to ‘give as freely as you have received!’
So I wonder if there is another challenge for us this summer at the festival – what can we buy in order to give? What goodies will we find which we know will bless someone – to show that we care and want to encourage them through some of the tough days of life. What can we freely give and not expect anything in return?