What exactly does it mean to pay it forward? I think we have all heard of this expression before. Generally speaking, it is when someone in front of you in line, or someone that is checking out ahead of you decides to bless another person by paying for your meal, coffee, groceries, gas; you name it! It has become fairly common for long chains to form of pay it forward contributors. One of the longest pay it forward continuous chains began on Christmas Eve 2013 at a Connecticut Starbucks, where over 1000 people paid for the coffee, latte, or treat of customer behind them. Another way a local business is paying it forward is with what you see within the featured post image. This is called, “The Wall of Kindness,” at Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia. At Rosa’s, customers are able to purchase a slice of pizza for $1, and purchase a slice of pizza for someone they may never meet. Instead of actually purchasing a physical slice of pizza, you are purchasing a sticky-note to write a kind message of hope. When someone less fortunate, homeless, in poverty, etc., comes into the store for something to eat, they are able to pick from a sticky-note to purchase their meal.
Paying it forward is not all about the person who has done the good deed; rather, it is about offering a sense of self-worth, grace, love, and hope to a brother and sister in need. Henri Nouwen was a great Catholic Priest and spiritual leader. In his book, Life of the Beloved, Nouwen penned these words, “As I grow older, I am more than ever aware of how little as well as how much we can do for others. Yes indeed, we are chosen, blessed, and broken to be given.” We are called as Christian brothers and sisters to coincide with all of humanity in the sacrificial giving of ourselves, creating connections with all people that are in need of a sense of self-worth, and that people truly care for one another. We may never know the full extent to which our lives are being used as blessings to other people, yet, as Nouwen puts it, “You and I have to trust that our short little lives can bear fruit far beyond the boundaries of our chronologies.”
Belwood, how are we being called to pay it forward and to bear fruit throughout our world? Through the simple gesture of giving to those in need on a day of evangelism. Sunday, July 31st has been set aside as a day in which we will go to mission posts within our community to pay it forward to any and all people we will encounter. You are invited, following Sunday School, to gather at the parsonage at 11am for prayer and commissioning, and to gather supplies for your mission post. The Catawba Valley District Vitality Team is in current discussion to fund our evangelism opportunity through the blessing of a grant. May we create a “Wall of Kindness” on July 31st, as we help those in our community purchase gas, groceries, lunch, and basic necessities and essentials we too often take for granted. Nouwen’s words ring true for us, “As a Christian, I am called to become bread for the world: bread that is taken, blessed, broken, and given. Most importantly, however, they summarize my life as a human being because in every moment of my life somewhere, somehow the taking, the blessing, the breaking, and the giving are happening.”
Blessed to be your Pastor,
Grace & Peace,
Jesus’ hands were kind hands, doing good to all, healing pain and sickness, blessing children small,
washing tired feed, and saving those who fall; Jesus’ hands were kind hands, doing good to all.
Take my hands, Lord Jesus, let them work for you; make them strong and gentle, kind all I do.
Let me watch you, Jesus, till I’m gentle too, till my hands are kind hands, quick to work for you.
 Henri J M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World (New York: Crossroad, 1992), 103.
 Ibid., 120.
 Ibid., 49.
 The United Methodist Hymnal, (Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon Press, 1989), #273.