Community of Christ: Responding Faithfully Takes Practice

One of the principles of the Disciple’s
Generous Response is to Respond Faithfully. This principle reminds us that our response
to God’s gifts of love and grace should be to serve others
and let generosity become part of our nature. But how does generosity
become part of our nature? As one of our recent worship themes reminds
us, we are called to practice generosity. Practice is doing something repeatedly and
regularly to improve our ability. So, responding faithfully means
not only being generous right now, but also being generous repeatedly
and regularly, time after time, growing a habit of generosity
that becomes part of our nature. I witnessed an example of this
while at a recent worship service. There is a young family that attends one of
the congregations that I regularly go to. I’ve noticed that when it comes time for
the Disciples Generous Response, the parents, Dawn and David, make sure that their daughter, Rosalyn, has something to put in the basket when it comes by, whether a nickel, a quarter, or a dollar. Each Sunday becomes a lesson for young Rosalyn that reinforces the importance of
receiving and giving generously. Seeing this interaction reminded me of the
many times when I was a young child and my mother would reach into her purse
and pull out some money that she gave to me so that I could participate and practice generosity. Although I did not always
recognize it at the time, this simple practice helped instill in me
the lesson of generosity and gave me the opportunity to
not just hear about responding faithfully, but to actually make my own faithful response. I don’t doubt that part of the reason that
I continue to respond faithfully with generosity were those small lessons practiced during
my formative years. Part of responding faithfully is helping others
learn those lessons of generosity. By modeling generosity, we pass on the lessons
we learned from those faithful disciples before us to a whole new generation of disciples. I can already tell that Rosalyn has begun
to learn the lesson of generosity. Later in that service, she had
come back to the pew I was sitting in and was playing with a number of small tiles. Each of the tiles had a color
or a picture on it and she was grabbing a handful and
placing a few at a time back on the pile. At one point, she looked up at me, grinned and handed me about half
of what she held in her small hands. She wanted to share what she had, so that
I could be part of the fun that she was having. And each time she grabbed a handful to start over,
she again gave some of hers to me. In this simple, but generous act, I could
tell Rosalyn was practicing the generosity she was learning from her parents
and others in the congregation. Not only was this a wonderful object lesson
that helped reinforce the theme for me, it was also a reminder that our calling to respond faithfully and give generously
according to our true capacity is not only related to our monetary contributions,
but also to our relationships. Certainly, it is vitally important that we
give faithfully to help support the mission of Jesus Christ in our communities
and throughout the world. It is also important to recognize
that being generous goes beyond what we are able
to give and contribute each Sunday. It is something that we can practice in our relationships
and personal interactions on a daily basis. The principle of responding faithfully invites
us to ask ourselves how we can exemplify
the love and grace that God has given us by sharing our gifts, talents and stories
with those around us. It calls us to be intentional about taking
a break from the busyness of life to focus on someone else and build authentic
fellowship and community with them. If we can allow ourselves to be open to the
Spirit, to be open to the Spirit moving in our lives, we can recognize the worth of all people. We can see how what we have to offer
can help fill a need in their lives. Sharing God’s love for us, we become
living testimonies to each person we meet, so that they too can experience God’s love. In our daily interactions, our willingness
to share our gifts and talents, our regular contributions in-person and online, or simply sharing some of what we have with
those around us, we have countless opportunities
to practice generosity and respond faithfully.

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