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August 10, 2018 - Generosity - the Call to Sacrificial Giving

Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

Scripture Readings

I think it's easy to read today's readings and immediately jump to money. We can read these readings and reflect on how we are giving financially - am I giving enough? Am I giving to the right organizations? Am I cheerful when I am giving that money away? But I think there is more to what we are being asked here.

It is not always possible to give money, and that is ok. We need to be able to provide for the needs of ourselves and our family. But this is why our church asks us to think of generosity in three ways - our time, our treasure and our talent. When you read today's reading and gospel, it's important to reflect on these areas of giving as well. Am I giving of my time and my talent to help those in need?

And how I am giving? Am I giving time, talent or treasure just when it's convenient and easy or am I thinking of the needs of others before thinking of myself? I think this is what Christ means when he says you must hate this life to preserve yourself for eternal life. He is not saying we should be depressed and have an angry hatred toward our lives. Rather he is telling us we should not be thinking of ourselves first. If we live a life where our every desire is met and we have every material thing we want, we are not preserving ourselves for eternal life. But if we embrace the idea of sacrifice and of giving up things we would enjoy, for the sake of the other, we are preserving ourselves for heaven.

Maybe this is financial - maybe you consciously choose to not buy something you desire, in order to give to the poor. Perhaps you feel called to give through your time. Can you give the gift of presence to someone who deeply needs a friend? Our culture encourages us to live in a mindset where there is never free time,  down time, time to just be with one another. Maybe you are called to find this time and share it with others. Or perhaps you are called to use your time to serve the poor. Or perhaps you have talents that can be used for the common good, for helping those less fortunate, for spreading God's message. Do you sit on this talent and pretend it does not exist or do you share it, to make an impact on the world around you?

Jesus tells us that unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat - if it dies it produces much fruit. It is when we sacrifice and die to our selfish desires then we are able to be like this grain of wheat. When we die to ourselves and practice sacrificial giving, we, like that wheat, produce much fruit.

And in all of this sacrificing and giving, we are called to be cheerful. God does not want us gloating, lamenting and seeking attention for our generosity. Rather we are called to give freely and generously and to do so with love, with cheerfulness and with joy - thinking not of what we have given but rather what we have allowed the other to gain.

I pray that today we may each find one way to give a little more than normal - through our time, our talent or our treasure. How are you feeling called to give of yourself to the world this day?

Amen.

- Amanda Grimm