03.01.17 | Stories, Stewardship | by Christopher Edmonston
Generosity, Devotion and Lenten Grace
When we think of Lent, grace is not the first thing which comes to mind. Lent brings forward the practice of penitence. Lent calls us to consider our brokenness, our mortality, and our finitude. Sometimes, our reliance upon grace gets lost in the shadow of these critical considerations.
But the deep truth is that it is impossible for us to fully understand our reliance upon God within our mortality and finitude without understanding our reliance upon God for the greater gifts of grace and mercy. Lent invites us to not only think about ourselves, but to also think about the reconciling love through which God has equipped up to transcend our obvious limits. Our lives are not just valued or devalued on the basis on our own accomplishments; our lives and their values are understood most fully when reviewed in the light of the cross, in the light of the Lord, and in the light of grace itself. Think of it this way: no Lent, no need for grace; no grace, no need for Lent to increase our understanding of our need for grace. It is circular. This is by God’s design.
This Lent we invite you to think of the unique ways in which grace breaks into your lives. In each and every place where grace is present can we find the energy to express devotion? To be devoted means to love something or someone. To be devoted means to be dedicated to a faith, a cause, or a practice.
Throughout Lent and into Easter and beyond we want to look at the practice of generosity — that is giving and sharing the time and resources of our lives — as a form of devotion. The ability to be generous is evidence that God has blessed us with grace enough to share. Every time we give, every time we share, every time we are generous in either our offering or our thanksgiving, we are expressing devotion. Devotion up-lifts our spirits and urges us to dig deeper. Devotion opens our eyes to the movement of the Holy Spirit, which in turn inspires deeper devotion in us.
Generosity functions much the same way. The more generous we are, the more generous we will be. Acts of sharing beget acts of sharing. Over the next year or so, we are going to be talking, writing, preaching, and praying about generosity at White Memorial. We are going to be remembering the generous saints who came before us — those upon whose generous shoulders we now stand. We are going to continually ask of ourselves, how can we each be more generous? Not to be generous to pad our resumes of generosity; but generous to become more devoted. In the words of the matriarch of Tarboro, NC, "We are not called to give until it hurts, we are called to give until it feels good."
In Matthew 6:21 Jesus says,
"Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Will our hearts be devoted? Will our hearts be generous? What will we choose to give this Lent? How might we share in order that we might show we are a people of grace?
It is Romans 5:15 which tells us that grace in Jesus Christ is abundant. There is no more generous Lord. There is no more devoted Savior. A Savior who calls us to be a gracious and devoted people.