“What Gifts Can We Bring?”
The hymn that serves as the inspiration for this year’s Stewardship Campaign theme, “What Gift Can I Bring?” was written in 1980 by Jane Marshall in celebration of the Northaven United Methodist Church’s twenty-fifth anniversary.
Marshall, a member of that Dallas, Texas, area congregation for many years and a composer and teacher of great renown all over Christendom, sought through this hymn, both the text and the tune, to remind us that ours is a faith which has been passed down to us from the past as a gift, one which we are called to claim each day of our lives, to open and unwrap and enjoy, and then to repackage and repurpose so that others might likewise come to know the Lord whom we know and to follow in the footsteps, in the pathways which he places before his people, before us.
Over the next several weeks, then, we will be unpacking the several verses of this hymn, as we consider how their composer’s insights infect and affect our own. For we are preparing to bring our gifts to God, through our Estimates of Giving for 2017 presented in worship on November 13th. And when we do this, we will be preparing the gifts, the presents, the tokens which we have received from others – from God, from our forebears – we will be preparing these for presentation to countless others, persons known and unknown, who will follow us here.
Michael Hawn has recently written: “One may find Jane Marshall at Northaven United Methodist Church on any given Sunday morning. It is not unusual for the choir to sing one of her recent anthems or for the congregation to sing a new tune to a text she has chosen. As Jane Marshall nears the completion of her nearly nine decades, former students, those who have attended Jane’s many workshops, church musicians, and those who sing her hymns throughout the United States give gratitude for her many contributions to the congregation’s and choir’s song.”
What gift can we bring,
what present, what token?
What words can convey it,
the joy of this day?
When grateful we come,
what song can we offer
in honor and praise?