Hymns & Songs

Giving back to the Lord

Aug 2018    

The phrase “giving back” is often used by individuals, institutions or companies to express gratitude for support that they have received, by contributing their money or time to the less fortunate.

But how do we give back to God, the Giver of life and Provider of all our needs?

Specifically, we need to consider the amount of resources we can commit to support the work of the church. Mary Healy, in her book The Gospel of Mark, describes the woman in “the widow’s mite” (Luke 12:41–44) as a “reckless giver” who gave all she possessed, which meant she had to rely on God for her next meal. Healey parallels the widow’s giving to the “self-emptying generosity of God who did not hold back from us even his own beloved Son”.1

Jane Marshall (b. 1924), a prolific contributor to the areas of worship and music in the United Methodist Church, expands our concept of giving back by references to time in this hymn, which was written in 1980 for the 25th anniversary of the Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas.

Marshall writes about giving thanks to the past. In our context, especially in the month we commemorate the independence of our country, we remember the leaders of the nation who helped make Singapore what it is today. We can give back by being good stewards in the upkeep of the environment and the upbringing of the next generation.

She also touches on giving thanks to the future. Through our faith, we know that God is with us. With God’s Word as our premise for living, we press on.

Finally, we offer to God our monies, our talents, our stewardship and our promise to live our lives in accordance to His Word. All these shape our relationship with God and one another.


What Gift Can We Bring
(The United Methodist Hymnal, #87)

What gift can we bring, what present, what token?
What words can convey it—the joy of this day?
When grateful we come, remembering, rejoicing,
what song can we offer in honour and praise?

Give thanks for the Past, for those who had vision,
who planted and watered so dreams could come true.
Give thanks for the Now, for study, for worship,
for mission that bids us turn prayer into deed.

Give thanks for Tomorrow, full of surprises,
for knowing whatever Tomorrow may bring,
God gives us his word that always, forever,
we rest in his keeping and live in God’s love.

This gift we now bring, this present, this token,
these words can’t convey it—the joy of this day!
When grateful we come, remembering, rejoicing,
this song we now offer in honour and praise!

Music and Lyrics: ANNIVERSARY, Jane Marshall, 1980


1 Mary Healy, The Gospel of Mark (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 254.

Judith Laoyan-Mosomos is the Director for Worship and Church Music at the Methodist School of Music, and a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.

Picture by Sosiukin/Bigstock.com

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