When I was fresh out of seminary, I was sent to St. James the Apostle Episcopal Church, a parish north of Houston. It was a delightful place populated with good people, and I enjoyed my ministry there. Folks were always willing to go the extra mile, just as I’ve seen here in Sioux City, and in Glenwood Springs -- in fact, over and over, in every parish I’ve ever served or lived.
One evening we had a fundraiser for a youth mission trip to Georgia. There was a silent auction and a regular, out-loud auction. People brought baked goods and there was some generous give-and-take -- you know, bidding up the price of a pie to $100, that sort of thing.
But one man in particular I will always remember. He’d done well in his professional life, and was blessed in that way, and he’d come that night wanting to be financially generous. He sheepishly put in a winning bid on a dessert called a Texas sheet cake.
Maybe you’ve never had Texas Sheet Cake; it’s pretty good. I don’t know that I’d pay $12,000 for one in the bakery, but that’s what he gave that night. Twelve thousand.
And I thought, Well, I hope for his sake it’s the best thing he ever eats.
But you know what? He took it back to his table and cut it up into many squares and we passed it around and swallowed it with cold milk and hot coffee. As I say, it was pretty good, but he didn’t care for cake, thank you, and he wasn’t being falsely humble or ostentatious either; I knew him well enough to see that.
He just wanted to be honest about his desire to be generous. He saw his chance, and he took it.