Just a little blue box, a little blue box that a little small prayer unlocks...

The other day I got a note from the Third Province Representative to the United Thank Offering Board, encouraging us all to remember the work of the United Thank Offering and, to put it bluntly, to do something about it.

Anne Gordon Curran writes, "I ask you in this time of Advent to prepare, to discern, and to energize your spiritual and personal self into a new birth and discover a commitment to go forward basking in the love that God is, and in the experience that His Son gave to us in his life on earth. We ask that you give daily tanks donating a small gift with a prayer in a Blue Box and we assure you that each gift, no matter how small, will indeed make someone else's life a little better. This ministry lives fully into our Eucharistic experience - give thanks and go into the world spreading God's love and many blessings, giving some of what we have to our neighbors, and in so doing, act as a reflection of God's image to the people of the world."

In our parish there has been a long history of this "blue box" ministry of thanksgiving, prayer, giving and action. UTO was for many years a major part of the extension of the parish's concerns fpr others into the world. In recent years the practice of distributing UTO Blue Boxes and gathering them in twice a year was gradually forgotten. We started up again this year and in the ingathering this December we raised over $1000 for UTO giving. More importantly we found this simple engine of thanksgiving and made it real again in our lives.

I was privileged to be part of the Executive Council's "Study Committee" that worked with the UTO Board to find new ways of expressing the basic core mission of UTO in the life of The Episcopal Church. 

Most importantly, in the context of that work, I remembered:  I remembered that in the midst of all sorts of complex schemes to fund this or that worthy purpose, the simple act of thanksgiving and prayer, combined with offering of funds for the work that needs to be done, means.  UTO is in some sense "The little engine that could."  Like the engine in that story UTO thinks it can, and thinks it can, and thinks it can, and then does. 

From the later year of my youth I also remembered the song from Fiorello!, the "Little Tin Box" which was a means of "saving up my money bit by bit."

The "Little Engine that Could" and the "Little Tin Box" are both fanciful extensions of an optimism for possibilities. 

UTO is greater than these: it is an actuality. Simple thanksgiving and prayer and giving year after year ends up being the engine that does fund mission and ends up being the little box in which the funds mount up bit by bit.

So, if your parish already has a UTO ingathering, God bless you.  If it doesn't, well God bless you to give thanks and pray and give for the mission of the Church through UTO.


  1. Sorry, but when I hear/read "Blue Box", I think of the TARDIS!

    [JCF, expectantly awaiting---among other things ;-p ---this year's "Dr Who Christmas Special"]

  2. We collected the little blue boxes (or envelopes) last Sunday. Much good comes from the United Thank Offering, and I'm always pleased to give.

  3. We collected the little blue boxes (or envelopes) last Sunday. Much good comes from the United Thank Offering, and I'm always pleased to give.

  4. St. Matthias, East Aurora, NY has had an opportunity each Sunday for members to give thanks for particular blessings with offerings to UTO. What was especially good about this was that we all got to share in one another's thanksgivings.


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