The Blessing of Giving

The Blessing of Giving

As we do every October, we take this month for our Stewardship focus. This month’s Worship series will feature several voices from our congregation, all focused on the idea of Generous Living.

This Sunday’s message will be brought by Mavi Barrena, who  has been an active participant in our faith community and our amazing choir, The Voices of Praise. She and her family—like many who would identify as “millennials”—come to this church with many questions about faith and spirituality, many times critical of more theologically conservative ideas. As this young family has grown in connection with God and the people of PB UMC, Mavi has shared with me her joy and finding a sense of the Divine that she has always known! We are privileged to hear her speak this Sunday in our continuing Stewardship focus.

Acts 20:32-38 (CEB)
32Now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all whom God has made holy. 33I haven’t craved anyone’s silver, gold, or clothing. 34You yourselves know that I have provided for my own needs and for those of my companions with my own hands. 35In everything I have shown you that, by working hard, we must help the weak. In this way we remember the Lord Jesus’ words: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

36After he said these things, he knelt down with all of them to pray. 37They cried uncontrollably as everyone embraced and kissed Paul. 38They were especially grieved by his statement that they would never see him again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.

Consider these questions:

  1. In the scripture above, Paul is saying farewell to the leaders of the church in Ephesus before traveling to Jerusalem. In doing so, he seems to be giving some parting words of wisdom. Do you work hard to help the weak (or disadvantaged or underprivileged)?
  2. In what ways do you do this work? How does it feel (both physically and spiritually) to do this work?

Post-Worship Update on 10/16

Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found at this link (will open in a new tab).

In Sunday’s message, Mavi challenged us to consider our giving as a way to experience spiritual growth here and now, rather than awaiting some far off heavenly after-life. She did not question these promises, but instead suggested that generosity (in the many ways there are to be generosity) might bring such joy and hope both now and in the far-off future. Mavi also invited us to prayerfully seek out more ways to give of ourselves—our time, our energy, our money, our love. In doing so, Mavi told of a recent experience of simply taking the time to buy someone breakfast where she experienced God’s presence in a surprising way.

Mavi notes, “God has a way of giving us what we need, even when we don’t know what we’re asking for.” She continues that God will always give us the opportunity to be generous, and in doing so to be fulfilled.

Consider these questions:

  1. In what ways have you found spiritual connection in giving? What were the circumstances? What did you give? What was your spiritual experience?
  2. In what ways have you experienced God giving you what you need even when you didn’t know what you were asking for? How did you respond?
  3. In what says have you experienced God giving opportunities to be generous? How did you respond? How did you respond?