This “Parsings” speaks to the several Collects on Sundays you will hear over the next 4 or 5 weeks, realizing that so much of the themes of the lectionary have to do with giving, money, stewardship, ministries given, and the source of all of that being in Jesus Christ through a loving and merciful God, full of Grace and Power for our lives given sacrificially in return to him. Providing the Parsings over this past year to you, Good Shepherd Parish, has been at times a challenge to “collect” my own thoughts, do the research and provide something coherent and helpful to you for worship. But above all, it has been a blessing to me to provide it for you. Again, though, given this season of Stewardship, I simply ask that you consider each of the next several collects, from Propers 23 through 28, with the following reflections and parsing of this year’s financial stewardship theme in mind.
The theme for our Season of Intentional sharing is “Generations of Grateful Generosity.” It speaks so much of what has been provided for the Church to continue its divine Christian ministry here in the San Jacinto Valley since the first services were recorded, and especially here in Hemet. Many of those generations are represented by members of our parish, and an upcoming baptism speaks to the generations to come. In the best actions of our generosity over these generations and those to come, the giving has been due to gratitude; gratitude to God our Father, and because we have an eternal life-giving to US through the action of Jesus Christ.
“Generations of Generosity” as a theme without “Grateful” included in the theme can be strings-attached, sometimes other-agenda philanthropy. I recently read through some promotional information and requests for a fund raising effort with that very theme, Generations of Generosity. It was not an effort that claimed to be a Christian based program, and that’s fine. However, it seemed clear that the reason for the effort was to raise funds to do a better job at raising funds from more and diverse peoples. As well, it made a deep appeal to what goodness was to be found in each of those givers.
In contrast, by adding the word “grateful” into the theme, we see that a Christian understanding of generosity is based not on what is already within, but pointing to something (some One) beyond ourselves in thanksgiving for what that One has given. And that One is Jesus Christ. And, truly, what limit to generosity could ever be placed on such saving grace that has been afforded to us through the work of mercy of Jesus Christ!? That this kind of grateful generosity has taken place in this parish – and in every Christian outpost – is one of those signs that Jesus Christ Himself, through His Spirit, has been present in grace, and mercy, in answered prayer and divine comfort, in sacramental communion, and in the helping and caring hands that have touched those in every generation here. It is no surprise: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and for ever.
There are many, many verses from the Bible that speak to generations, and gratefulness, and giving.
Here are three that show some of what the theme relies upon, but also one thing that has not been touched on so far. Each generation is responsible to make their giving to God, and not to rely upon that which has been provided before. And yet each generation is responsible to teach the next generation not just what giving is all about as an act of self-less consideration, but that every new generation needs to hear the message of Good News in Christ, so that they too might receive salvation from God and now show their own generosity with deep Gratitude for what He has done.
From Psalm 78:4, the psalmist refers to the mighty works of God as they say,
“We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.”
“so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.”
And in Psalm 79:13, that psalmist tells of the correct response to God, and even explains what we are doing when we give of our material goods to God’s work, that is, that our grateful generosity is actually PRAISE to God,
“Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will proclaim your praise.”
May you continue to be generations of grateful generosity.
And in gratitude for your generosity to me as your Interim Rector,
Fr. Rob Eaton
October 20, 2017