The gift giving season is almost upon us. To be precise, the gift buying season is upon us. Christmas ads have begun on television and I have been in two stores that are already decorated (which is really disorienting when it’s 87 degrees outside). My inbox is already filling with “friendly reminders” from the various charities I support that “Giving Tuesday” is fast approaching and I should be planning to make an extra donation on that day. Family is already sniffing around for hints of what I “want” for Christmas. And I confess that I bought my first Christmas present for someone back in May (of course, I haven’t bought any since but that does not overcome my self-righteous smugness for having already started).
All in all, it’s a fascinating time of year. We give in to the illusion that we are generous people because of our behavior and spending patterns for about eight to ten weeks, when the truth is that our gift giving and generosity is predominantly lavished on people who give to us in return. There is a self-serving and narcissistic edge to our Christmas giving that is hidden behind the tinsel and hype of the season.
What does generosity truly look like? What does it mean to give with no thought of return, to give to those who cannot repay, to give simply because the act of giving reflects the nature of God who gives to us abundantly? How is generosity a Christian virtue? What are the implications of being a truly generous people?
Beginning this Sunday, we’ll explore generosity from a theological point of view and ponder together what it means to be a generous people. We’ll begin this week by contemplating the “Generosity of God” who gave of God’s self to become one of us and bring meaning to our lives (John 1:1-14). At the same time, we’ll look at what a truly grateful and prayerful response to such generosity is when we hear David pray in 1 Chronicles 29:10-20. We’ll witness God’s generosity in action as we gather around the font and participate in welcoming new members into the family through baptism.
I look forward to seeing you tomorrow (if you’re one of those being generous with your time and serving in the Fair Booth Sunday afternoon, come to an early service). Until then, I invite you to take some time and name the ways God has been generous to you.
Grace and peace.