People give to people
I remember when the Living is Giving programme began in this Synod. I was asked to write an article on the theme ‘People Give to People’ — that being one of the theories that was driving the change from the existing levy system to a system that allowed Congregations to choose the projects they wished to support.
I used a sermon on the Good Samaritan as the basis of the reflection to show how many people passed by. Apart from one — the Samaritan — who actually stopped and came to the place where the man, a stranger, was lying unconscious and gave him assistance. This assistance undid all the harm that the robbers had done even to the point of meeting his expenses when he had transported him to the inn. People give to people!
I have learned this lesson recently in my own life. During May I took part in the UnitingCare moveability challenge to ride my bike 500kms. Although I am writing this before I’ve finished the ride, I can tell you I reached my fundraising target on day one of the challenge and revised it upwards to more than double. I am on track to reach that target, too.
People are generous. They give to people and they give to good causes. In our leadership charter we said of generosity: “The Uniting Church is blessed with significant resources, which can be used to build the common good and support the work of the whole Church in its many expressions of ministry. We will promote and ensure the generous stewardship of these resources. We will be generous with our time and talents and in our dealings with each other. We will form partnerships to build community capacity and be inclusive of all.”
Indeed we serve a generous God who calls us to be generous. Being generous should imbue every part of our lives. John Bunyan had a little poem:
There was a man,
some called him mad;
the more he gave,
the more he had.
I am lucky too to be part of a Tongan family. They have taught me a lot about generosity and giving. They do not give from their excess — the leftovers they can spare — they truly give everything they have and count it as a blessing. They give because they believe in the work of the Church and take seriously their duty to God.
R T Kendall has said, “Tithing is the solution no one talks about…if every Christian tithed, every Congregation would be free of financial worries and could begin truly to be the salt of the earth. If every Christian would tithe, the Church would begin to make an impact on the world that would change it. The Church instead is paralysed.” Let’s learn to be generous and to give God the share that is God’s due!
In my sermon on the Good Samaritan, I explained that I had been inspired by a friend’s story. On entering a Church he found the words ‘come in to worship’ and felt inspired. He felt more inspired though as he left and found the words ‘go out to serve’. As we come and go in the life of the Church we need both worship and service to make our lives complete. Both require our generosity and our energy.
Rev. Dr Andrew Williams