The very goodness of God's generosity
"It takes generosity to discover the whole through others. If you realize you are only a violin, you can open yourself up to the world by playing your role in the concert." ~ Jacques-Yves Cousteau
As I write this, it's Saturday morning and Prineville Presbyterian Church is humming with generosity. It's our annual AutumnFest and lots of things have generously been made and/or brought in to sell with the proceeds supporting our church's local work.
A generous "welcome" has greeted folks as they've wandered in, and a generous "thank you" follows them as they leave. In between is generous laughter and easy conversation with our visitors.
This day is possible because of the generosity from lots of folks who spent the previous week setting up, as well as many who made the handcrafted items we sell. And in a few short hours, many more will generously give their time to put the church back together for Sunday's worship.
Our Sunday service enjoys abundant generosity with music and choir, lay readers and greeters, and fellowship and flowers. Our worship opens with a generous welcome and that is a big reason for our continued growth.
To stay ahead of our growth, the church was about to buy matching padded chairs until a member generously covered the purchase — and then stepped forward again as we needed 50 more chairs.
To make room for our growth, we needed to extend our parking lot. As the church was about to buy gravel to do that, a family generously came forward to pay for that.
The church is kept comfortable thanks to air conditioning generously given by another member not too long ago. Our newer carpeting and blinds in the foyer came as acts of generosity.
Each of these generous moments prompt recollections of even more generosity, and they all point to God's first act of generosity: Creation.
"In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. And God saw that the light was good."
As God brings creation into being, light is good and the gathered waters are good. So too are the plants, night and day, and every living creature. Individually, these are all declared good.
"Then God said let us make humankind in our image…and when God saw everything God had made, God declared it very good."
This very goodness where the total is greater than the sum of its parts as Creation reveals for us God's unending generosity is all because "God so loved the world."
From those very first pages about Creation and onward, we read the Bible as God's generous love story for the world. As Paul C. Shupe treats this: "Love that stirred God's heart at the pleading of the slaves in Egypt, and love that offered them both the guidance of the law and the security of the Promised Land.
"Whenever inequality or injustice threatened the welfare of the poor and the powerless [any part of God's very goodness] God's generosity raised up prophets who declared God's desire for compassion shown not just to insiders but also to sojourners (temporary guests) and foreigners too.
"The generosity of God's love that brought Jesus to us, where He taught that love is not merely for those who look and think and believe like us, but even for our enemies and those who persecute us; a generosity that extended outward to bring in the lame and the blind" – all of those people who society was quick to dismiss.
That love made real for us in the ministry of Jesus Christ – God's greatest act of generosity as Jesus taught that love is not merely for those like us, but for all; making sure that that everybody has a seat in God's symphony.
Mike Wilson is the pastor of Prineville Presbyterian Church. He can be reached at 541-447-1017.
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