This week our Worthington Presbyterian congregation is looking at the fifth of five “practices of fruitful congregations.” In this fifth and final week of our series we are talking about and thinking about and praying about “EXTRAVAGANT GENEROSITY.”
I want to begin with a story that has intrigued me for many years. It is about a medieval monk who stopped along the edge of a path to have some food. Another traveler passing that way asked for something to eat. As the monk pulled out some bread from his sack, the traveler noticed something else inside that bag: a jewel glistening in the sunlight!
With extraordinary nerve, the traveler asked for the jewel, too. And the monk gave it to him. The traveler went on his way—happier than he had ever been—at least for a time.
A few days later the traveler sought out the monk again and said to him, “When I left with that precious jewel, I thought I would never need anything more. But I soon realized I was wrong. I have come back to ask for something more precious still: That which enabled you to give it to me.”
Please don’t get caught up in the details of that story! What I hope we all can glimpse is how precious is that gift of God—the gift to be generous. You see, God gives us the power to be generous! God gives us the freedom to not be “possessed by our possessions.” God has given us so much—GOD is so extravagantly generous!—and we get to gratefully, joyfully respond by loving God with all of our heart, and soul, and mind, and strength….and time…and money. These last two, you have to admit, can be very HARD. But I’ve experienced it, and I’ve heard many others testifying to this truth: when you give of your time, and give of your money—for the Kingdom of God—you find that you get back much more than you could ever give.
We give up something of value for something of even greater value. Our generous giving makes everything else possible. Radical hospitality, passionate worship, intentional faith development, risk-taking mission and service—these all depend upon a generous spirit.
How are we doing at nurturing this gift in our individual lives, and in the life of our congregation? How can we do better?
I hope you’ll think about your own experiences of “extravagant generosity.” And may we be open to the opportunities God brings us in the coming days.
One of the next opportunities for our congregation to learn and grow in our faith will be the four week series, “Marriage Matters,” that begins on Wed. 10/28 at 7:30 pm in our sanctuary. The series will continue on 11/4, 11/11, and 11/18 at 7:30 pm as we look together at the history, theology, and Biblical background of marriage. It will be led by Dr. Piermont and Dr. Rice. Members of Session will be present (and participating) as we listen and learn together about the meaning and gift of marriage, and as we look at what this says to us about the issue of same-gender marriage. May we be generous to one another as we learn and grow together.