This time of year could be called a season of generosity in our culture. We see a lot of extra requests for support and help, whether from nonprofits and social service agencies or from individuals and families. Winter is settling in and so people need coats and hats and help with energy costs. It's the holiday season and so we want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to eat and be merry with friends, family, and neighbors alike.
As a church we’ve been helping to meet those needs through adopt-a-family, gift cards for Rivers of Hope to give to their clients, as well as the craft sale which raised around $8,000 to be distributed to missions. We also raised over $800 to provide hygiene kits for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, which we’ll pack after worship on Sunday Dec. 3rd.
Generosity is an inherent part of the Christian faith, you could say it is a posture of the Christian life. We see generosity throughout scripture, demonstrated especially from God towards people. God gives to people in need throughout the Bible, ultimately giving God’s very self in Jesus, that we might be freed from bondage to sin and death and united to God forever. We see generosity on the part of the woman who pours the whole jar of costly oil on Jesus' feet, anointing Jesus before his death. We see generosity from Zacchaeus when he gives back far more than he had stolen from people. The call to generosity is made by John the Baptist who commands that whoever has two loves of bread or two cloaks should give the extra to a person without one.
There are, outside of scripture, in Christian history and tradition countless stories of generosity on behalf of saints, pastors, and everyday faithful. St. Nicholas of Myra was said to have secretly given money to a poor father and his daughters, so that they didn’t have to enter the sex trade in order to survive. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish priest, gave his life in the place of Jewish man in a Nazi concentration camp so that his family would not lose their father. To live the Christian life is to live a generous one.
Generosity as a posture and value of the Christian life is not just one for the holiday season and the end of the calendar year, but one for everyday, for all year long. I am convinced that generosity is a value and posture of this congregation. Year after year, day after day, each and every one of you gives from what you have, for the sake of this congregation’s mission and ministry, and for the sake of those in our community and world in need. You live out generosity, not just with money, but with food, with time, with energy, with laughter, and with prayer. It is my true pleasure and honor to serve in the midst of such generous and faithful people. I am grateful for your generosity and I know many people and organizations in and around our community who are grateful for it too!
I pray that this Advent and Christmas season is a blessing for each of you and that you might experience the generosity and abundance of God’s grace and love.