From Hal's Desk... where Ron Is Sitting
One of the blessings that arrived in my life long before I knew what it meant was the gift of generosity. I didn’t plan it, it just happened, and I find myself deeply grateful every day.
I grew up around generous people. My Mom and Dad were givers. She was an Avon salesperson and he worked in a factory and we lived close to the edge financially, but they found ways to give. There were always strangers at our table, she baked and cooked for others and showed up to volunteer. They supported the church and they shared with other organizations because they had heard Jesus say that the only thing we would ever have was what we were willing to give. We never had much, but we always had enough. To this day, I don’t know how they pulled it off, but because of their love, I grew to believe that being generous was the right way to live.
Over the years with the love and support of my spouse, I have developed my own pattern of generosity. Several years ago, we made the decision to become tithers. We set aside a percentage of our income each year to support the work of organizations that reflect our personal beliefs. Our churches are at the top of the list. We belong to two congregations—full members of one and associate members of the other. We pledge to both. We also support the congregations where I have been honored to serve since retirement. Then we support the work of our UCC Conference and make annual gifts to several parts of the national United Church of Christ. We support the colleges we attended and the two seminaries I attended and a dozen or so organizations working to make this world a better place: like the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Carter Center and Habitat for Humanity. We have an estate plan which means that after we make our journey into the love of God, we will continue to support the things that have been so important to us in this life.
Each year we make a couple of gifts to organizations that we believe represent an attempt to address systemic racism and offer reparations for past injustices. These gifts have helped us support the historic Black Colleges related to the United Church of Christ and the Franklinton Center at Bricks, NC, a center in the struggle for Racial justice. We support the American Indian College Fund as well.
Am I bragging about how generous we are? If you want to read it that way, go ahead, but then what do you do with the words of Jesus about not hiding your light under a bushel?
What I want you to know is that proportional giving that makes a difference in your life and enables you to discover the joy of generosity, makes sense in my life and the life that I share with my beloved. Our lifetime of work has enabled us to have a better retirement than either of us thought possible. We both know that circumstances beyond our control could change that at any time and that no matter how we might fool ourselves, we can’t take any of what we have with us except what we have shared. That is a central part of our faith.
So dear Plymouth friends, please hear me when I say: God is good and God is calling us all to the simple joy of generosity!
P.S. I will be with you for about another month and would love to get together. Just give me a call. I work Sunday-Wednesday but am always available other times as needed. Let me know.