OPENING ACTIVITY: A Gift Received and Given
Ask students to describe a time when they were given a gift that they were later able to use to help someone else. For example, they may have received a tool as a gift and later used it to fix something for someone. Or perhaps they received some cookware and later used it to cook a special meal and share it with others.
The Holy Spirit gives us gifts for the purpose of helping and serving others, as this week’s story reminds us.
OPENING STORY: [Read the story aloud or make copies and pass them around.]
COOKING FOR THE COMMON GOOD
In an article for Christianity Today, Eva Rodriguez, a Christian Latina, remembers as a teenager how she helped women who willingly and cheerfully cooked meals in the kitchen in her church’s basement during the worship service. She wonders how people could concentrate on the service with all those delicious smells coming up their way. What she shares is that the women who perform this type of service are often figuratively, if not literally, helping to build their churches. Sometimes they cook to feed their families or people who are hungry in their own churches, but perhaps just as often they make and sell food to raise money for the congregations they serve. Eva points out that women in her culture have for generations made and sold tamales, burritos, tacos, and other foods to benefit their churches.
In her home church, Eva remembers that the women who cooked while others worshiped did not do so with resentment that they were missing out on something by not worshiping with the congregation. “While they cooked,” she says, “they shared testimonies, they shared needs, they sang, they praised God. They ‘had church’ in that kitchen and while they cooked, they edified each other, prayed for each other, encouraged each other, and loved each other.” While they cooked, they were an encouragement to one another. What they cooked later benefited others.
Over the years, Eva observed similar things in other Latino churches. In ones without kitchens, women often prepared food at home for this ministry and brought it to the church so the meals could be eaten together. Women who cooked as a means of service also contributed directly to the construction of Eva’s own church building—they sold a variety of food and raised $10,000 for a down payment.
According to Eva, women “do this very traditional, nurturing thing, cooking with great pride, because they know they are helping to build the church. God is being glorified through the meals the women prepare.” In Latino communities, Eva notes that it’s not uncommon for cooking to be the gift that fuels fundraising efforts, and she thinks that hundreds of churches across Latin America and the U.S. have been built in part from this type of ministry.
Sadly, Eva has also observed that some Latino women feel their work—whether it be “baking, cleaning, child-rearing, or party-organizing”—is not as valuable “as other work being done in the church.” She suggests that one solution for this dilemma is for church members to encourage all their brothers and sisters to use their gifts, “all of their gifts,” to serve and help build the church.
Eva’s article about these women is aptly titled, “On These Tamales, I Will Build My Church.” All who are serving in this fashion are bringing something to the table that the church needs and should celebrate.
Now form small groups to answer these questions.
- Who in your congregation uses his or her gifts in similar ways to serve your church?
- Why is it important for us to use the gifts the Holy Spirit has given us to serve everyone in our churches?
- What happens when we don’t use our gifts to serve others?
On These Tamales, I Will Build My Church
Looking for Steps 2 & 3?
You can find Steps 2 and 3 in your teacher’s guide; your Step 4 appears below. To purchase a teacher's guide, please visit: Bible-in-Life or Echoes
CONTRIBUTE TO THE COMMON GOOD
Although the gifts the Holy Spirit has given us provide us some personal benefits, the primary purpose of His gift-giving is so we will use the gifts to serve others. God does not want us to put these gifts on a shelf to be admired or to use them in ways that bring undue attention to us or to the gifts themselves. The gifts are for giving back as we gladly serve and glorify our Lord.
Ask students to return to the groups they had in Step 1 to respond to these questions:
- How has the Spirit gifted you? If you are not sure, other people often see what your gifts are when you don’t, so ask what gifts they see in you.
- How can you use your gifts this week to serve others, perhaps in new and different ways?
Close the class in prayer. Thank God for the gifts His Holy Spirit has given each of us. Pray that we will be thankful for the gifts we’ve received from the Spirit and that we will use them in ways that serve the Body of Christ.
THE BIBLE IN THE NEWS
An Israeli Egyptologist discusses the Exodus story and new discoveries about it.
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