Monday, February 7, 2011

The Chamber of Secrets

The Old Testament holds such fascination for me. "Jesus concealed," I have heard it described. Not like "Where's Waldo' but something divinely so much more. Christ permeating its prose, calling to us through a homemade boat, unleavened bread, wafers found at sunrise, a branch tossed into bitter water.

I have been reading about a small dimly lighted room in the Temple. It was both public and private. Visited by rich and poor alike. One hand unobtrusively deposited something in an alcove and another hand picked it up. On and on, year in and year out, grace upon grace, mercy multiplied by kindness. All accomplished in secret in the Chamber of Secrets.

This Chamber of Secrets did not owe its fame to a Harry Potter movie by the same name. Its existence was birthed by the idea that God is a giver and we were made in His image. In God's economy there is enough and gifts come with wings not strings.

It was the ancient custom for those with a little more than they needed to visit the room and leave coins for those who had less than they needed. This was not gathered by the priests to be distributed to whomever they deemed deserving of charity. This was an unguarded mini-bank with out a lock on the door. Whomever was in need, or was a stranger without funds, could visit the room and take a little. Today you may be a gleaner but tomorrow a giver.

Open hearts and open hands in an atmosphere of honor. The Chamber of Secrets kept its secrets as much as possible. The identity of the giver was as guarded as the humility of the poor was regarded. The Jewish custom of tzedakah (charity) has its origins in the Chamber of Secrets.

Giving is an art because it has the possibility to create beauty as it reveals Christ. Paul encourages us, among other things, to get the giving thing right. To "...excel in the grace of giving." To laugh-out-loud-love-it but don't get caught doing it in public.

(...since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. 2 Corinthians 8)

Some friends helped me with suggestions for Chamber of Secrets gifts. I offer you their suggestions should you find one you like or invent your own.

Toss cash into the offering by putting it in an offering envelope without your name on it. This does not have to be a nominal amount.

Meet a need by giving to a cause that is worthy but may not be tax deductible. May not even be church related.

Sponsor a teen for a mission trip in someones name you wish to honor.

Put a gift card in a thank you note and toss it into the offering with the pastor's name on it AFTER you write to say "Good Job! I noticed!" Forget to sign it. (The pastor is probably accustomed to receiving unsigned mail.)

Pump up the benevolence fund. Light and warmth and food are blessings.

Leave your change in the soda or vending machine for someone else to find.

Tip big.

Remember the idea is to practice graceful giving and not to injure anyone. And it does not always have to be a complete secret. Maybe just something you keep between yourself and the recipient.

Once someone left a rock on my desk. Once they left a starfish. Someone left an exercycle on my front steps. (That is not as obnoxious as it seems at first glance. It was exactly the one I prayed for but told no one.) Someone cut our grass and shoveled our driveway when we were at work. Someone left flowers in a pot and another left cookies from Hawaii. (Food surprises left at the door require a signature.)

A friend recently brought me pomegranate seeds as a thank you and a good-bye gift. Some of the most lovely gifts I have received were wells dug or livestock purchased in my name for struggling families in underdeveloped countries. A check when we were in between jobs. We were free to mention it to others but the giver never would have. Treasures all and the list goes on.

Funny thing about those gifts. Most arrived on days my heart was empty. Coins left in a dim secret alcove. They were recycled when my heart was filled. When they arrived I felt like Jesus had been shopping for me. When I passed them on I felt like the woman with the alabaster bottle on her way to lavish it on Christ. He is worthy and rewards openly the quietness of our gift. Jesus concealed.

There are some gifts that require our identity. Gifts of membership and pledged support that says, "I kept my word," or "You can count on me." Jesus revealed.

Loving hands all. His hands loving us through one another. Loving a world more in need of a little charity than another chest to pin a medal on. With us it is about the crown we will one day lay at His feet. Who needs your love today be they friend or, well, not your friend?

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts...and be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly...and whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3

Dedicated to Melody Dix. Mel, the fact that you are a lover and a giver was never a "secret." Your presence and generosity will enrich The Grand Canyon State. You will be missed and spoken of with affection. Blessings in your new home. John & Kathy


  1. Thank you Kat for the good word. I have been thinking a lot about "creative giving" in the last months and am in agreement. Thank you for the beautiful dedication. You are so kind. I already miss my Alaska friends.....there are none like you all. Come and see us soon. You are always welcome here.

  2. Thank you for stirring the giving-pot, Kathy. Thank you for giving when it would have seemed you didn't have it to give, Melody. -Kimberly