Giving. It’s spiritual. It’s also material, touchable, in the daily ways we do it (or don’t do it). And it can be awkward to talk about. This October, we’ll be reflecting on our habits, practices, and attitudes surrounding the spiritual discipline of giving on Sundays during worship and with periodic reflections during the weeks.
So often we think of giving as an isolated act, a transfer of money or material goods or attention from one person or group to another. But we can also think of giving in terms of a flow, where we, and these things being shared, a part of a larger ecosystem. In an ecosystem, nutrients and energy are constantly cycling, sustaining life, moving to where they’re needed, and when there are no interruptions, all parts of the system have what they need in the proper time.
In 1 John 4:19 we hear “We love because God first loved us.” The whole letter of 1 John is an exhortation to the community to be generous, even extravagantly wasteful with their love toward each other and others. Why? Because that love is a resource that is not ours but God’s, who freely and sacrificially gives it to us in Jesus Christ. We therefore are not owners of this love but stewards, and we are meant to give ourselves away in the Spirit of this love, this gift, trusting that because it’s source is God, love never ends, and we will never be without it.
That is all well and good. But love is not the only God-given gift we’re called to steward- not hoard for ourselves- for the sake of participating in a new and radically beloved reality in this world.
Our money, our time, our compassionate attention, our contacts and community networks, our talents/gifts, even our apparent weaknesses – all these are resources that can either be used sparingly and for the benefit of ourselves and “our own,” or they can be offered toward building up a wider community, cycling among a wider network of people and communities as a way of nourishing justice, hope, new life where it’s needed.
At Church of the Holy Spirit and Abundant Life Health & Healing Ministries, we are growing in our capacity to trust God with all that we have and all that we are.
This means when it comes to what we have at our disposal on any given day, or month, we want to learn to give in ways that demonstrate that trust. That among us, and our wider network of friends and supporters (because nothing depends on any one individual in God’s beloved community), are the financial resources, material goods like food and diapers and tools, gifts of compassion and healing and knowledge, and yes, love. Radical, honest, humble, bold: Love. Enough for every person and creature to not be left out or behind.
We invite you this month to reflect as a community on the different ways you (and we) practice giving, and what that means for us spiritually.