Cody Haar is an associate pastor at Cornerstone Church in Sheridan.
We live in a generous community. I’ve always known this and yet this year I saw generosity redefined. While the month of December is always filled with the usual flurry of activities, programs and fundraisers, there is also the usual emphasis on generosity. It is the season of giving, after all.
In the midst of all the commotion, one example of generosity really stood out to me. With his permission, I’ll tell you part of his story.
A friend of mine works full time, yet the pay is barely sufficient to meet his basic needs. I will tell you that he is a responsible man, but circumstances largely out of his control mean that he is living month to month, paycheck to paycheck. There are many in our community that can identify with that. Yet the financial limitation did not hold him back from being generous this year. He found ways to serve others by volunteering his time with different organizations. I thought that was very commendable.
Then one afternoon I got a text from him saying, “Let me know if there is a family in need. I’d like to help them have some gifts.” As God’s timing would have it, a very short time later I was able to match him with a family. He blessed them with gifts given not out his abundance, but out of his poverty. And I believe he received the bigger blessing.
I know there are so many stories like this. I could fill today’s paper with them. There are lots of great organizations and individuals blessing others, sharing everything they have. For the Christians, we do this as an expression of the generosity Christ showed us when he lived, died and rose again on the third day for our salvation. This is a response to the hope, love, joy and peace that is now ours through Christ the King.
Let me share another illustration of generosity. Many churches have a Christmas Eve candlelight service. At some point during the service, the lights are dimmed down and the congregation takes a moment to reflect on the Christ candle, the white candle lit at the end of the Advent season. A team will then light candles they are holding from that Christ candle and turn to light more candles that the congregation members are holding. Pretty quickly the room goes from dimly lit to surprisingly bright. Many of you witnessed this just a couple of days ago.
This is a beautiful picture of the church being the light of Christ in a broken world. Jesus talked about light and generosity in Matthew 5:14-16: “No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. ‘You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.’”
This is the generosity that I saw so much of this year — a generosity with the purpose of glorifying Christ. What I described was not generosity because of Christmas, but rather generosity because of Christ.
So here is my challenge to the church and to this community (and to myself). Let’s make generosity a habit. Let’s always be aware of the needs around us. Let’s not wait until next December. If you are looking for a New Year’s resolution for 2020, let it be, “I will make generosity a habit.”