She wrote a check each week. My mom didn’t put her weekly offering in an envelope. It was just a folded check. First hand, front row seat, daily I observed my parents as children do.
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
~ Proverbs 22:6
My mother died September 13, 2008. I still miss her and give God thanks for her. As we prepare for this weekend to both remember those who have died as part of our All Saints celebration weekend and receive Commitment Cards for our 2020 Sharing the Light of Christ campaign memories of what I learned growing up from my parents about giving, sharing and generosity are on my mind.
My parents taught me about generosity growing up. As challenging as many other aspects of my home life were, as a child, one of the gifts I received was learning how to share. It went beyond sharing toys with my siblings, sharing of energy and effort in contributing to household chores and the sharing one teaches a child about taking turns. My mother consistently shared of her time and resources. She and my dad both instilled in us a deep love for “our neighbors”.
This wasn’t only generosity and kindness to those who lived nearby or that we knew. It included inviting and welcoming students to Thanksgiving dinner that were from another a country and had no place to go, having a young boy from the inner city live with us in the summer to attend a camp, and being intentional in generously sharing financial resources.
As we celebrate All Saint’s weekend we will hear Jesus say something new to those who are following him, “do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31. The Golden Rule is accompanied by the call to love your enemies. Moving beyond the words of the prophets of the Old Testament regarding care for the poor and justice Jesus tells those who follow him to love their enemies.
"But I say to you, the listening ones, love your enemies, do good to the ones hating you, bless the ones cursing you, pray concerning the ones falsely accusing you.” Luke 6:27-28
We get to live in a different way as followers of Jesus. We get to both mourn and rejoice at the time of death. We mourn the death of a loved one and rejoice in God’s grace that reunites them with God. Pastor John Petty writes this about this week’s lectionary reading:
“The Golden Rule in verse 31 is a subversion of accepted social practice in the ancient world. One's typical social posture in that world (and ours) was to bless those who bless you and curse those who don't. Doing to others as you yourself would like to be treated, whether friend or enemy, was a radical re-interpretation of this social practice. One's relationship with others is not determined by their past actions, but rather by the new reign of God in which the poor are blessed and enemies are loved.”
As I have been prayerfully reflecting on what Dan and I will share of our financial resources for 2020, I am reminded that we are called to live not as the world would tell us is of greatest importance -seeking status, wealth and the approval of others. Instead we are called to live as Jesus tells us is of greatest importance- to love God with everything- heart, mind, soul, strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Reflecting upon what I was taught as a child and what I have observed in some folks that I admire I see the power of generosity. I am giving thanks for those who have taught me so much. My deceased husband Steve lived so generously not only in how he shared his money, time and talents also in the way that he thought the best of people, trusted God deeply and shared with me a love that promised to not let me go even when I was far less than my best self.
May we all keep practicing the love of Jesus. Letting in this grace-filled love for us that God has that was expressed in the life of Jesus and then sharing it moved by the Holy Spirit, as we generously share of what we have been given.