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Generosity Week 2023

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Steve Johnson, Living Generously Adviser for the Diocese of Derby, writes:

Generosity is one of those words that immediately makes you think – how much?

And which, understandably, links our minds with money.

So, whilst enduring a financial cost of living crisis, there may well be the perception that generosity features less highly on our priorities.

The truth is that generosity is more than money, and is something which everybody benefits from, which we all have in abundance, and which we can nurture into life-transforming opportunities.

A call to embrace generosity is found in 2 Corinthians 9 verse 6 : ‘The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully’.

…and in Acts, Paul quotes Jesus directly in addressing the Ephesian Elders: the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” …where there is no mention of money at all.

Mother Maria Skobtsova, a nun during World War II, said: ‘According to the laws of matter, if I give away an amount of money, my funds are reduced by that amount.

"By the same laws, if I give my love, I am impoverished by that amount of love. However, the laws of a spiritual life are the exact opposite of the laws of the material world.

"According to spiritual law, every spiritual treasure given away not only returns to the giver…but it grows and becomes more valuable."

>> Resources for parishes

>> Generosity Week Podcasts

If Mother Maria’s observation recognises how we give of ourselves, then Archbishop Justin Welby in his 2017 Lent book Dethroning Mammon challenges us to decide of what measure of ourselves we are using in assessing our wealth.

There is wealth by which the material world can measure us, and then there is wealth by which we can measure ourselves.

Generosity calls us to reflect upon our own precious resources: our time, attention, talents, possessions, comfort, reputation, as well as our finances.

Therefore, raising the profile of generosity within our parishes will not only make evident the need for generosity in our communities, but will enable us to demonstrate the impact of peoples giving of their resources.

However, creating a generous culture can’t be achieved through a mandate – it lives in the collective hearts and habits of a church and the shared idea of how things are done in that context.

Being a Derbyshire lad born and bred, I know that context is everything, and understanding to encourage generosity requires local knowledge, together with the ability to recognise how to create opportunities for generosity in all its’ forms.

The Diocese of Derby is wonderfully diverse in our parishes and churches; each one having within its’ people those who give generously of all their resources, and to flourish generosity needs an environment which returns that giving in abundance. Living in a busy world which makes infinite demands on us, we sometimes need some help with this.

As we head towards autumn, back to work, a new school term, and the busy-ness of life, enabling generosity may not seem easy in this environment.

We may feel that we need someone to come alongside us; to make us feel reassured in placing our own precious resources.

As the Living Generously Advisor, I have helped countless parishes begin this journey of generosity.

Because we have a generous God, who has equipped us much more than the material world ever could.

This is reflected in our Vision Prayer:

Gracious God,
in your mercy, and for your glory,
renew us, reshape us, revive us -
with generous faith, courageous hope, and life-giving love -
that, in transformed lives,
through growing church and building community,
we may see your Kingdom come,
and be good news for all.
Amen.

As we begin Generosity Week 2023 on 24 September, perhaps take the opportunity to reflect upon how enabling generosity in your parish could transform the lives of those within your community.

If you would like to explore generosity and ways in which we can nurture the various aspects of living a generous life within your parishes, please get in touch.

Last modified on Monday, 25 September 2023 16:51
Steve Johnson

Living Generously Adviser

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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