Our strap line is #CometoLife. This is based on Jesus’ words in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full!” We long that everyone (community and guests) may know this God of love and abundance. Revd Dr Sam Wells writes: “Christians don’t have to look far for a mission statement for the Church. Living abundant life. Jesus is our model of abundant life. And discipleship describes inhabiting abundant life; that is practised, shared, and discovered in the world”. But of course, the question remains, is this quality of life actually visible? Is generous living evident in the Church? As Martin Luther once declared there are three conversions; of the head, the heart and the wallet. And so there needs to be an attitude of generous living whereby everything we do and all that we are, speaks of a God of generosity. Generous with our time, in giving it away to others; generous with our forgiveness, in freely letting go of grudges; generous with our words, building people up in affirmation; and yes, generous with our money, to neighbours nearby and across the world. It may seem a tall order. So what evokes generosity in us?
In the Gospels Jesus commends an unlikely character, the town harlot, for her generosity of heart. He says to Simon, “Do you see this woman”? “You provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet, you gave me no greeting, but she hasn’t quit kissing my feet, you provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful”. Jesus spells out a clear equation of forgiveness to generosity. By implication, it’s a sobering warning to all of us, who may feel very ‘righteous’, that we may in fact be leading mean and narrow lives.
One of the ways that we seek to express gratitude to God in our shared life together, is by taking seriously our community promise, which focuses on generosity of spirit, ‘Do you understand that your mind, your time, your talents and possessions and all your relationships are to be increasingly surrendered to Christ as Lord’? Acts of generosity are to demonstrate our corporate commitment.
In community we continually pray that God will expand the capacity of our hearts to love and that we will give unconditionally to others because of the grace we have experienced. As God pours grace into our lives, so we seek to respond with generous love to others. We want to make plenty of space for others, and offer a wider welcome, so that many more are welcomed through our doors to experience God’s grace which has absolutely no limits!
Revd Chantal Mason