“ All things come from you, and of your own do we give you” (1Chronicles 29 v14)
These words were always used at the Offertory (the point where we give donations in the service) at the church I attended when I was young. The words challenged me, for it always seemed that the money I had saved, or worked for, was 100% mine! Yet those words from the Bible remind us of a truth: from God’s perspective we are stewards over whatever resources we control in this life, not permanent owners. After all, “We brought nothing into the world, and we take nothing out” ((1 Tim. 6 v7). We are all aware that the Coronavirus pandemic has accentuated the divide between the haves and the have-nots. Debt levels, unemployment, and demands on charities have all increased.
When our daughter was small, we would encourage her to share something she’d been given, such as a bar of chocolate. I still remember how she would break off the most miniscule piece and place it solemnly in one’s hand. She was doing what she had been asked but doing the minimum. Yet we are also told “God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9.7). Maybe each of us recognises times when we have reacted a bit like that? Happily, our daughter has grown up to be a committed and generous Christian, honouring God with generous giving of her time and money.
I write these things because we are, as Christians, living in times where many are in desperate need, and surely people of faith are called on to be as generous as we can in our response? I am thankful for everyone who quietly supports every appeal, and we are blessed with people who faithfully give of time and money to their church. Yet the bare shelves on St Mary’s foodbank recently spoke of the need for all of us to continue to be generous. If each of us has more than enough food, can we not all regularly give some of it to the foodbank ? If we did, the foodbank could be better stocked.
The community foodbank at St Benedict’s started up this week. As I have started to appeal to the community, I have been really encouraged to find local Muslims very generous in their response. I hope our churches, and others of whatever faith or no faith our communities can react with equal commitment. We pray for a time when foodbanks are obsolete , but for now, we need to step up.
If reading this makes anyone feel grumpy, imagine how grumpy one feels with a family to feed and insufficient money coming in to pay the bills and put a fair range of wholesome food on the table? If we can get into a regular habit of shopping for ourselves and at the same time for others our churches will be seen to be places of practical love. I hope we won’t respond to this appeal by judging others who are less fortunate than ourselves; let us instead respond with joy that we are in a position to help.
May we all each day pray the ‘Living God’s Love’ prayer : “ Living God, draw us deeper into your love; Jesus our Lord, send us to care and serve; Holy Spirit, make us heralds of good news. Stir us, strengthen us, teach and inspire us, to live your love with generosity and joy, imagination and courage, for the sake of your world and in the name of Jesus. Amen.
With our love and prayers , Richard and Katherine.