“We build on foundations we did not lay.
We warm ourselves at fires we did not light.
We sit in the shade of trees we did not plant.
We drink from wells we did not dig.
We profit from persons we did not know.
We are ever bound in community."

Rev. Peter Raible (paraphrased from Deuteronomy 6:10-12)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Day 24 of Spiritual Practices and Reflections: Some invitations to Give (Or: Giving as a spiritual practice)

Back in October, during our "Mapping a Life" worship series, I said this about gratitude and generosity: 

“All that we have is a loan from life itself…. The world doesn’t owe us anything…. We owe the world and its abundant miracles…our gratitude, our praise…. The spirit map suggests that we live with humility and gratitude at the center of our lives. 
Gratitude opens the heart to generosity. When we’re really grounded in gratitude, we can remember that it’s all on loan. We don't get to take it with us; it’s not ours to keep—it’s not our to begin with—so we might as well share the blessings; we might as well become generous.” (You can listen to the whole sermon here.)
For the past five years, I have been focusing on truly living from a place of gratitude and generosity. It's not always easy, but as I've written about before, almost every morning, when I write, reflect, and spend some time in prayer, I try to identify at least three things in my life that I'm grateful for. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's hard. But living from this place of gratitude changes my inner life and how I am in the world. Gratitude invites me to give back, to serve the world. As a faith community, we strive to practice giving, gratitude, and generosity. Here are a few of the ways we do that: 

If you're a part of the First Universalist community, I hope you'll join us for our Day of Service, Feb 4. We have over 30 different projects going on that day, as we serve (give back) to the wider community. We've challenged ourselves to give 2000 hours of service to the community on Feb. 4, and we've got service projects for families, youth, and people of all ages. If you're in the Twin Cities, I hope you'll sign up and participate. And feel free to invite a friend to join you, too! (It's worth noting that many of these Day of Service groups continue to work and give together throughout the year, so it's not just a one time event.)

The Day of Service is part of First Universalist's Annual Giving Campaign (our Pledge Campaign). During the month of February,  not only are we invited to give our time and energy to the wider community, via the Day of Service, but we're also invited to give generously to the church (3-5% of our income) to support its mission and work in the world. 

Finally, each Sunday, as a faith community, we have a chance to practice giving and generosity, as we give away the majority of our Sunday offering. This past year, as a faith community, we've given away over $60,000 to non-profits and organizations in the wider community.

(And I haven't even mentioned the hundreds of congregants who give their time and energy to serve on the Board or as Small Group Facilitators, or Religious Education Teachers, or Strategic Plan Working Group Facilitators, or ushers, greeters, or coffee servers...)

Ultimately, none of the numbers truly matter; what matters is the story behind the numbers: how our hearts are changed, opened, and stretched by gratitude, giving, and generosity. What matters is how the church helps us become "Love's People," grounded in gratitude and generosity.

How has your heart been opened/expanded by gratitude, giving, or generosity? How can you imagine deepening your practice of giving, of generosity?

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