Conventional wisdom says, successful people become generous because they are happy due to their success. II Corinthians shares a different story in the lives of some of the very poorest people who's joy and love for Christ spilled over into generous living. Happiness and generosity certainly go hand-in-hand. Put your hand into someone else's and see the joy you feel when you are giving and when you are given what you need. Thanks be to God for the gifts GOD provides, so often we see these gifts in and through each other. "
Consider these words given to us by the ELCA leadership encouraging a "rediscovery of Macedonia" in our "1st-world" American culture:
We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part (2 Corinthians 8:1-2).
Have you rediscovered the spirit of gratitude and generosity present in the early Christians from Macedonia? While poor and experiencing a severe ordeal of affliction, these faithful people showed a spirit of gratitude and generosity. It is this spirit the Apostle Paul lifts up to the people of Corinth, a community of believers who struggled with their faith and to follow Jesus’ commandments. It is this spirit of the Macedonians that we wish to share and grow within all communities of faith.
Perhaps the best place to begin this undertaking is the last verse of the previous chapter:
I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you (2 Corinthians 7:16).
Paul expresses his confidence in the people of Corinth to achieve the undertakings placed before them. Paul goes on to use the spirit of the people in Macedonia as an example of how this can be done, even during difficult times. Thus Paul begins with joy and confidence in the body of Christ, and develops a ministry of stewardship that presents a way to make a common confession of faith. It is the stirring spirit of these verses that we strive to rediscover today. We reflect God’s confidence in us and are more complete when this spirit of gratitude and generosity become a public confession through our faith. And, it is by God’s grace that we are able to do so."
Here in the Sumner/Bonney Lake community, at Creator Lutheran Church we see a weekly "Sermon on the Amount" in the bulletin. What we see is a reflection of the joy our congregation members share with our entire community; both those who worship with us and others who we are called to serve. In the bulletin, we see the gratitude of God's people growing as we turn our hearts and minds toward gratitude. What a blessing to be part of a vibrant community! Let's rediscover gratitude in a perhaps not-so conventional way... by the generosity that breeds great joy through our shared opportunity to be generous with God's gifts entrusted in and to each of us.
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