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A Methodist Way of Life – Generosity

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We will practise hospitality and generosity

I once attended a service of Holy Communion where the theme of the service centred around the generosity of God's love. When it came to breaking the bread and pouring wine, the minister poured the wine from a bottle into the chalice, and kept pouring. The wine soon filled the chalice and overflowed. It went everywhere. This is a powerful symbol of God's love for us. There is no place or situation where God's love does not reach; no person who is beyond it; who cannot be touched by it.

'For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.' (John 3:16,17)

John Wesley is famous for saying 'The World is my parish' or, more accurately, in his journal he wrote, 'I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation.' (Journal, June 11, 1739)

Wherever we are we can share something of the gospel, whether it be through our actions or by explicitly talking about God.

Consider the average Methodist meeting: if tea and coffee are not offered we think it strange. I have yet to attend a 'Bring and share' meal where people have not gone home with goodie bags because of the generosity of all that was offered. In recent years the thoughtfulness behind this has increased as we notice a variety of dietary requirements being catered for.

Hospitality is much more than this. The Bible talks of hospitality as being open to the stranger, or making space for a guest. So it is also about making space in the church, at the table, in our lives. Some research was done a while ago which stated that if we merely welcome people and only see them on Sundays, they may stay with the church for a while. If we are prepared to invite them home, invest time in them, be prepared to be changed by them, then we nurture life-long disciples. Hospitality therefore is as much an attitude of mind as it is an outward expression.

Hospitality and generosity are so closely related. When we think of the love God has for us, perhaps the best way to describe generosity is to reflect on the phrase, 'As freely as we have received, so we are to freely give.' Generosity of time, talent and attention is as much part of our gift as our financial contributions.

Every blessing,
Ian

  • How do you practise generosity?
  • How do you practise hospitality?

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