This week in worship we begin a new message series, “Take the Next Step” which is the theme of this year’s Generosity Campaign. If that term seems different to you, that is because it is! This year, instead of our traditional Stewardship Campaign we are shifting the focus from what folks often associate with the word “stewardship” to a focus on generosity as a response to all the gifts that God has so lavishly poured into our lives. It’s not that stewardship is a bad word. It’s a great word with deep, biblical roots. But for some, it is loaded with expectations and connotations that lead us away from the heart of the matter when it comes to giving – our joyful response to the goodness of God.
Too often our thinking about giving goes quickly to the bottom line and how will it impact or fund our budget. But honestly, God is less worried about budgets and more concerned with our hearts. So this year, we are seeking to keep the focus where it belongs, on the extravagant goodness of God and how God is calling us to take the next step in cultivating a generous heart and lifestyle in response to and in imitation of God’s generosity towards us.
Hopefully, you picked up your copy of our series devotional guide, “Practicing Extravagant Generosity” by Robert Schnase. We hope that you will use this guide as part of your daily devotions and prayer time throughout this series. You should have also received a bookmark/prayer card with the book. Each week you will receive another prayer card with a different prayer emphasis and scripture to meditate over. We hope that all Suntree UMC will be united in praying over the question, “Lord, where do you want me to be in my giving?” and in praying over our church and its many ministries.
This week we will begin our generosity journey by digging into the story of Abram (later Abraham) and his father Terah and their different responses to God’s call as found in Genesis 11:31-12:4. We will begin to think about what it means to cultivate generosity over a lifetime by saying “yes” to God’s invitation to “Take the Next Step.”
We will also be celebrating the saints of our lives and how their lives have reflected a generosity of heart, faith and giving that still blesses us today. When you come to worship Sunday, I invite you to look around you and ponder the legacy that the saints in our lives have passed on to us. The sanctuary and worship center where we worship, the classrooms where we meet for Sunday School, the Memorial Garden where we inter our loved ones, the baptismal fonts where we celebrate the sacrament of baptism, the stained glass. All of it was a gift that we have inherited from faithful saints of God, many of whom have gone on to glory. Think about the hundreds, the thousands of lives that have been touched, blessed and changed because folks before us gave generously to the work of Christ at Suntree UMC. Think about that legacy and say a prayer of thanks to God for them and the faithfulness of their witness to all of us. And then, begin to consider how God is calling you to carry on that legacy by cultivating that same generosity of heart and life that we see in them, and even more, that we see in the extravagant generosity of God, his son Jesus Christ, and the life-giving Holy Spirit.
I look forward to seeing you in worship Sunday as we begin this generosity journey together.
Grace and Peace,