Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” During the month of November, we’ll be talking about how we can make a life by giving generously. We’ll look at what generosity means and how it’s an essential part of being a disciple of Jesus. We’ll also talk about how generosity flows from our understanding of stewardship, which we examined earlier this year. We first looked at the revolutionary concept that God owns everything. Then we learned that God has given us the really important job of taking care of God’s stuff. And as stewards of all that God has entrusted to us, we are called to manage it – to invest, and save, and spend, and use it – in ways that please God, the owner.
Now we’ll tackle the next step in our understanding of stewardship – what it means to live generously with money, time, and abilities. (We generally think of only money when we think about generosity, but living generously encompasses all we have and are.) We talk a lot here at COG about how we love and welcome because God first loved and welcomed us. It’s the same with generosity – we are generous because God is generous. (After all, God gave us what was most important – his beloved Son.) So how do we live generously like our Father?
One thing I want to make very clear. We are not learning to live more generous lives in order to raise funds for Cross of Glory. Yes, Cross of Glory is facing some tough financial times. We have a big 2017 deficit budget, giving has dropped off since summer, and things will be more challenging in 2018. But generosity is all about living as disciples of Jesus; it’s a spiritual practice that reflects our commitment to God. As we learn to live more generously (and some of you have already got this generosity thing down pretty well), we’ll be more generous with many organizations and causes that further God’s kingdom in our world. (And as a congregation, we want to trust our abundant God, even in the midst of our own financial challenges.)
Here’s the thing – I have no doubt that as we become more generous, we will give more to Cross of Glory. We’ll do that because Cross of Glory is furthering God’s kingdom in our community, and because Cross of Glory is making a difference, both for those of us who worship here and for a whole lot of other people who don’t. And because financially supporting Cross of Glory is a wonderful way to participate in what God is doing. But there are lots of other organizations also doing God’s work. And as generous people stewarding God’s resources, we are called to give where we prayerfully discern God is calling us to give.
This November we’ll start looking at generosity as a way to live more as a disciple of Jesus. We will ask for a commitment to Cross of Glory, but generosity is more than that. Because like our discipleship journeys generally, generosity is something we grow into over time, as our relationship with God becomes deeper and more intimate. I hope you are all excited to take this journey with me. It will be a challenge. But it will also be filled with joy, as we respond to God’s call to make a difference in the world around us and, in doing so, we become more of the people God has created us to be.