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Advent and Christmas and Epiphany give us a chance to re-define our understanding of generosity. It is in this season that we remember God the Son becomes one of us in Jesus of Nazareth. He lays aside all His “benefits” as God and comes as a secret agent to sacrifice Himself that we might have a life giving relationship with God forever. God moves into the neighbourhood as a baby boy. And we can’t sing enough about it. So let us not be distracted from this central truth but learn anew from our Lord’s spirit of generosity.
The Apostle Paul argued and tried to teach the Corinthians and the Ephesian elders that it is “more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20: 35) We live in a day and age that shouts for rights and for the basic mantra, “I deserve more.” It is an entitlement that many of us need to fight. It is not up to us to tell others that they should be more generous and that we should receive more. The Lord encourages us to be the generous ones first. And I am grateful to all who have so generously given to Grace Church, especially in the month of December, over these four decades to make this the wonderful congregation that we are.
We hear Paul encouraging the Corinthians and us to be generous. I am not thinking about buying gifts and charging them to credit cards and worrying later about paying for them, as the $600 billion on Canadian credit cards feels like a staggering number. If you need financial emergency help, it is good to reach out and say what you need to those who specialize in financial debt and bankruptcy. For the rest of us, I am thinking about Paul teaching that we need to excel in the “grace of giving.” (2 Cor. 8:7) We have many choices with our finances. Let us choose to give to the Lord’s work as He prospers us. Let us as well choose to give to one another out of a generosity of spirit, that is, kindness, patience, good will, blessing and respect rather than other things we might say to one another. What we give to one another is much more than the money we give to ministries or the Christmas gifts we purchase and offer at this time of year.
Jesus is our example. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9, NIV) Although we may not agree on our future and our choices as a congregation, we can serve one another and desire one another’s best as we enter 2023. We can help one another and give generously to one another. Here is the Gospel at work in our church family.
Thank you for choosing to be generous in this season and year round.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
P.S. Let me quote a favourite hymn/carol on this subject:
1 Lord, you were rich beyond all splendour,
yet, for love's sake, became so poor;
leaving your throne in glad surrender,
sapphire-paved courts for stable floor:
Lord, you were rich beyond all splendour,
yet, for love's sake, became so poor.
2 You are our God beyond all praising,
yet, for love's sake, became a man
stooping so low, but sinners raising
heavenwards, by your eternal plan:
you are our God beyond all praising,
yet, for love's sake, became a man.
3 Lord, you are love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship you;
Emmanuel, within us dwelling,
make us and keep us pure and true:
Lord, you are love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship you.
CCLI Song # 2833789
Frank Houghton © 1930 OMF International (UK) (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)
CCLI License # 267938