Living Generously – Growing Together

Over the last few weeks, and continuing into November, we have engaged a sermon series titled Living Generously. These sermons include a series of films that tell the story of the Donovan family as they seek to understand what it means to live the words of Jesus. Each week, the videos have been fun and challenging. Each episode gives us a glimpse of the Donovan family’s journey as they take risks, experience suffering and joy, and find themselves transformed by the call of Christ.
In our first episode, we heard about giving good sheep and giving “stinky” sheep. Ray, the Donovan family gardener, explained that long ago, when God’s people would sacrifice sheep to God, some would offer their biggest, best, most valuable to sheep to God. Others would give away a sickly, stinky sheep, one they didn’t want in the first place. Giving our “good sheep” to God reflects our love for God. This is the heart of generous living: loving God with our whole hearts, souls and minds (Matt 22:34-40). As we examine our own generosity, we have to ask ourselves, “Is God our first love?”
Throughout this series we have also been hearing and reading testimonies from within our own congregation about the impact of living generously.
Living generously is a lifestyle I adopted when I ultimately realized it is more blessed to give than to receive. It involves prioritizing my money, my time. my services, and more. I learned to live generously when it became apparent that the way I personally receive love is by “time” given to me. As a Christian I now offer my time to encourage others, in sickness and despair…by notes and visits and prayers. I also contribute to my church as much as I can, more freely and joyfully. How living generously affects the outreach of the church is evident every day: providing PADS shelter in the church; the UMW Rummage Sale proceeds augmenting local and global efforts, being an election polling site to the voters in town, Christian social services providing temporary homes to families in need, etc.
Living Generously gives us all a chance to re-evaluate the demands upon our lives and reset our hearts toward gratitude. The series will conclude with our every member commitment campaign. We will receive pledge cards during worship on Sunday, November 17. You will receive more information about this in mail. Please have the “generosity” conversation at home before November 17, so that you will be ready to turn in your pledge card on that day.
God loves each one of us. Our best response is to love God. When God is our first love, we want to give God the best we have to offer, not our leftovers. Love moves us to give our biggest and best sheep to God.