Often there is a very visceral reaction that wells up within us as we are listening to the acceptance speeches. Some of the speeches are rather cringe-worthy and leave us with a sour feeling in our stomach. The award recipients might come across as arrogant or self-congratulating. Sometimes the winners don't even express gratitude or their words strike us as hollow or insincere.
Then there are winners who really touch and inspire us. With a lump in their throats and tears moistening their eyes they are genuinely humbled and they acknowledge that all that they have is a gift. They are so happy to be able to give back and share all of the love and support they have received. What a difference it makes to see someone who is a gracious recipient of the gifts they have received.
We continue our annual time of stewardship renewal here at Nativity of Mary. It is a joyous time for me and I pray that you all are touched by the joy too. This is our time to stand in God's spotlight and give our "acceptance speeches" – humbly thanking God for all that we have received and knowing the thrill of offering it back to God to be spread generously.
This is a time to get rid of our sourness, our hollow self-sufficiency, and any ingratitude that we have. A humble heart feels good within us and makes us eager to share the good.
One of my favorite acceptance speeches was delivered by Fred Rogers, aka Mister Rogers, as he received a life-time achievement Emmy in 1997. There were few dry eyes in attendance as he shared,
So many people have helped me to come here to this night. Some of you are here, some are far away and some are even in heaven. All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, 10 seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are, those who have cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life. 10 seconds of silence... Whomever you’ve been thinking about, how pleased they must be to know the difference you feel they’ve made.
Thank you, Nativity of Mary. We make a difference. Let's thank God for all of the gifts we have received and, as we fill out our stewardship renewal forms, let them be our humble and generous acceptance speech to God.