In October 1994, Harvard University Law School announced it had just received the largest cash gift ever given to a law school: $13,000,000. The donors were Gustave and Rita Hauser. What inspired such generosity? Gratitude.
In 1955, Gustave and Rita met at the law school. In 1956, the day after final exams, they married. Gustave served as the head of Warner Brothers Cable Television, Chairman and CEO of Hauser Communications, and a developer in the Nickelodeon Channel. He never practiced law. Rita became an international lawyer who persuaded Yassar Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization to renounce violence in 1988 and served as the United States Ambassador to the United National Commission on Human Rights.
Yet, when asked about the gift, they did not highlight their accomplishments but offered a rather simple explanation. At the ceremony, Gustave said, “This school had a unique role in bringing us together…” They gave this gift in thanksgiving for what had happened at the school.
Smoke Rise Baptist Church is a place where people are brought closer to God and closer to one another. Most of us could echo the words of the Hauser’s, “This church had a unique role in bringing us together…” In October, I preached and we sang “Blessed Be the Tie that Binds Our Hearts in Christian Love.” We are indeed blessed beyond measure to be a part of a church community that is committed to worshiping, learning, caring, serving, and giving together.
I love Smoke Rise Baptist Church. I thank God for YOU!
In November, we will have an opportunity on All Saints Day (November 5) to give thanks to God for those who have gone before us. Dr. Truett Gannon will be preaching on this special Sunday. Our church is built on the firm foundation in faith laid by those bold visionaries who saw more than just a plot of land. They looked beyond their day to our day. They dreamed of a worshipping community that could touch and transform lives. We are living their dream. They have given us a sacred gift. We are also called to give.
The words of the hymn inspire us…
“Because I have been given much, I too must give;
Because of thy great bounty Lord, each day I live;
I shall divide my gifts from thee with every brother that I see
Who has the need of help from me…”
This Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas, may God fill our hearts with gratitude for the gifts we have received and may we listen as God calls us to give.