Messiah will launch "Journey to Generosity" in October, our fall financial campaign. In October, we can expect a packet of information addressed to each of our homes. The packet will include an invitation to journey with Jesus to a life marked and transformed by generosity.
In a chapter entitled "What would Jesus have ME do?" (The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus), Peter Gomes writes:
Our situation would be easier if Jesus were less clear about the priorities he sets for us. At the heart of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew's Gospel, Jesus says, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you." "All these things" refers to such things as food, clothing, and other fundamental necessities of life, plus security, safety, and moral clarity. The priority that Jesus asks us to seek is God's kingdom, God's righteousness, the first thing above all else to which we are meant to direct our attention and efforts. That is also the first petition in the pattern of prayer that Jesus thaught his followers to say: "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done...." We should notice that only after the priority is established are we encouraged to ask for our own needs in the form of daily bread.
How would "generosity" be transformed if we remembered what Jesus always call us to do? We are indeed called to establish new priorities for ourselves and our communities of faith.
Too often, and annual pledge drive is limited to funding the church's budget instead of transforming how we look at our calling as Christians. As a result, too often, we worry about surviving instead of taking up Jesus' challenge for us to thrive.
When we establish new priorities for ourselves and our church, we transform how we think about generosity. The transformation calls us to look for generosity in every aspect of our work, in every aspect of our lives. Remeber the tenth chapter of Mark's Gospel, "Jesus, looking at the man, loved him and said, 'You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.'"
Jesus calls us to look at what Gomes calls "the long view." Once again, Jesus challenges us to give all of ourselves to God's righteousness and trust in God's care.
What a challenge! What a transition!
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.