How did you learn to be generous? In the art of generosity, one of my earliest instructors was my grandmother, Gladys. Every time we turned around, it seemed, she was trying to rehome a $20 bill in someone’s idle purse. Each time we visited, she had several coupons and ads—plus any necessary funds—assembled as a potential itinerary. She’d say, “Why don’t you go over to Arby’s and get some of these new sandwiches? My treat!” It wasn’t just the provision but the forethought that was so impactful.
Over the coming months, we will ask for members of Westminster to share their stories of generosity, too. This is part of a new initiative put together by our Spirit of Generosity Team. Many of you will be asked to share how you would describe “generosity,” where you learned it, and how it’s now practiced in your life. You might take just a moment—even while reading this—to ponder yours.
Though those stories may have different settings and characters, I believe they share an origin; they all trace back to God. We worship a God who is, at Their core, generous--a God who challenges us to see abundance where our mortal lens can only perceive scarcity. We worship a God who is present, and who pours blessings over us each day. From the fragrant display of a flower to the tittering of children, life is full of gifts. This is true even when we find ourselves in seasons of grief, and longing.
Generosity is a way of living, and a spiritual practice. When we are generous with our neighbors—however that looks for us—we inevitably find ourselves the greatest beneficiaries of all. I believe this is because we were born to be generous, in the image of a generous God.
On a final note: Those $20 bills my grandmother tried to sneak into our purses or pockets? She never had many of them. She grew up one of twelve children and worked, out of necessity, for most of her life. She didn’t take fancy trips or wear particularly nice clothes, though she was a good steward of everything she had.
She was never a wealthy woman—but the mere suggestion that wealth and generosity should be correlated would have bewildered her. “Generosity” was just how she showed up in the world as a woman of faith; a legacy that continues to inspire me.
Whatever your “generosity” inheritance and practice, I hope you’ll reflect on it—and I hope you’ll consider sharing it with us.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Therin Fenner