Harvard Avenue Christian Church is a vibrant and energetic community, where lives are changed and souls nurtured, where brick and mortar transforms, where ministry happens and good news is proclaimed. Giving of our financial resources is an important step in the life of faith. There is no underestimating the impact individuals and communities can make when moving toward a common goal.
Stewardship is about more than the transactions we make with our money. It is a whole-life, relational response to God and God’s abundant generosity. It is intentional and impactful deployment of our spiritual gifts. It is a way of giving that flows from the heart in concrete ways in response to what God has already done. Being devoted to generosity is life-giving for both the one who practices generosity AND the one who receives it.
(from ‘devoted to generosity’, from the Center for Faith and Giving,
and the Ecumenical Stewardship Center)
As part of life at Harvard Avenue, how will you respond to the love of God in your life and in the world? In the midst of it all, as we commit to building relationships with God and with one another, the community we serve continues to grow. How will you commit to the spirit-filled life and ministry we share?
Stewardship 2020: GENEROSITY
Giving, generosity, stewardship. These are not one-time events. As faithful followers of the ways of Christ, our very lives are to be given generously in the care of all that we have been given – our time, talent, and treasure. We live as good stewards, creating a culture of generosity.
Stewardship Ministry Team Lead Dr Robert Lynch reminds us:
Giving time, talent, money, attention, encouragement, emotional availability, and more, from the heart, is the essence of generosity. Generosity is ultimately an expression of love.
The paradox of generosity refers to the fact that the more generous we are, the greater benefit to our well-being there is. The results of a significant social-scientific study indicate that all five measures of well-being — happiness, health, purpose in living, avoidance of depression, and intent in personal growth — are significantly enhanced by the practice of generosity. By sharing our resources generously with others, we will find ourselves happier, healthier, and more purposeful in life.
Our 2020 stewardship emphasis, ‘GENEROSITY’ is just one step on this path of faithful giving and living. Your pledges and offerings support our daily, ongoing ministries for the 2020 calendar/fiscal year. You can make your 2020 pledge here.
. reflections on generous living, from the Harvard Avenue family .
GENEROSITY HOLDS US UP
Generosity is a profound act of kindness. You give and yet you feel as if it costs you nothing. Generosity is the most natural outward expression of an inner attitude of compassion and lovingkindness.
For me generosity of love, support, and friendship came when my husband, Oliver, died in May 2018. His was a sudden and unexpected death. The generous love of so many here at Harvard Avenue literally held me up. I received food, cards, hugs, notes, prayers, visits as well as help planning and arranging for the memorial service. So many details were taken care of because of the generous hearts of members here at Harvard Avenue. And this generous spirit continues with calls, invitations and conversations. Overflowing love and support keeps showing up. Such generosity helped me deal with the grief and gave me hope for the future.
How will you act with generosity? Where will generosity show up for you? I believe the spirit of generosity is alive and well at Harvard Avenue because so many give unselfishly of the time, talent and financial resources to make it a place where we can come together to love God, love one another, and love others.
Meredith Howard, Harvard Ave member since 1995
GIVING, AT ALL AGES
When I think of generosity, with gratitude I think of donors for scholarships who give to and invest in students they may never know. I think of a business executive who taught me early in my career that tipping a few extra dollars, as you are able, will make a much bigger difference to your server than it does to you.
From last Sunday’s scripture reading, through the prophet’s voice, God says ‘I delight in my people.’ (Isa 65:19) During the service, both Elders and a church member spoke about this season of stewardship; each talked about grace in generosity, and abundant generosity. In this season of life, my people includes a three-year-old, and their words made me pause to reflect on the delight AND the grace we show one another during a day. Often my prayer is for God to give me abundant patience with Spencer – who, though a little one in all his eagerness of the world, is quick and generous with his forgiveness of my ungraceful mothering moments.
When I think about generosity of spirit, compassion, resources and time, I can’t help but frame it through his eyes:
– spirit – how it doesn’t matter who is in the car with us, that he squeals ‘My church! My church!’ every time we drive down Harvard;
– compassion – how when a football player was injured at a recent college game and the ambulance was on the field, he confidently told others around us how God was looking down from the sky on him;
– resources – how Spencer knows he wants 4 quarters each week for his pocket, to give at Sunday school for the offering to help buy Heifer animals for people in need; and
– time – how he suggests we should pray for someone or wants to make cookies to take to friends or family who are sick.
His worldview has been so shaped by our village here at Harvard Avenue. We feel blessed to be part of this community that is teaching him – by example – to be generous in his life. God loves a cheerful giver! We are grateful for the generous investment our church family makes in our own family.
As our stewardship ministry team talked about logo for this theme of GENEROSITY, I was drawn to the look of a ‘bigger’ heart with all of the little hearts fluttering upward and outward to me … representing our church members going out into our community and beyond to generously share the good news of God’s kingdom. Won’t you join us as we show God’s love to others in the coming year, by making your pledge and being abundantly generous as you invest in others?
Susan Buck, Harvard Ave member since 2017
Generosity is an important aspect of living our lives as a church and a community. We all express our generosity in different ways. Some give time, others lend their talents, many give financial support. Whatever we give, ultimately our gifts represent our love for our community. We give generously because we want our church and our community to grow and thrive. We give because it enhances our lives. We give because it is an integral component of living our faith.
Today we have many opportunities to express our generosity. We are surrounded by needs in our world and community. And, we are asked to be generous in many different ways and by many different organizations. While generosity through stewardship is important to our personal fulfillment and the success of our church, it is the motivation to give that defines our generosity.
We know that we are the most generous with our resources when we understand the need. We are most willing to support missions where we feel connected. We give our time, talent and money where we believe it will have the greatest impact. If you’re reading this, you understand and are connected to the words “Be Loved, Believe, Become”. Those words define our work at Harvard Avenue Christian Church and our outreach in the community we serve. They are powerful words that provide the foundation for our generosity. May they inspire your pledge for 2020.
Kevin Gross, Harvard Ave member since 2016
THE ACCIDENTAL SISTER
Generosity changes us … both the generous and the grateful.
“My mother died of a heart attack two days after coming to Fordyce, AR to visit me for Christmas. Her cheery laughter filled our home one minute and she was gone the next. The following week is a blur. We buried her back home in Lebanon, TN on Christmas Eve afternoon.
As we drove back to Fordyce for what would be the saddest Christmas of my life, I suddenly remembered my youngest (of four sons) had asked for only one thing for Christmas, a log truck he’d seen in the window of Ross Pharmacy. The older boys would understand why there were no presents, but Doug was only seven.
It was late when we stopped for food, a motel and a few hours sleep. In tears, I called Miss Wilma, the pharmacist’s wife, asking if the truck was still there and would she save it for me. I could hear Christmas Eve chatter in the background as she said a soothing, “Don’t you worry. I’ll take care of the truck for Doug.” That was the best and only good news I’d heard in a week. My broken heart eased a bit. I actually slept.
Early Christmas morning, as we drove the last three hours home, I tried to prepare the boys for a dismal disappointing sight. My mother’s car was still in our driveway, her trunk filled with hidden Santa presents and other gifts to be wrapped.
When I opened my front door, it took me a moment to realize there was a tree with twinkling lights. It took the boys no time to realize there were gifts. Stuffed stockings hung from our mantel. Doug raced to the shiny log truck shouting, “Santa came!”
I was shocked. How did all this happen? How indeed. Wilma Ross. I believe in angels and have known one in the person of Miss Wilma. The next Mother’s Day, I asked Wilma to be my new mom and she accepted with a warm ‘mama’ hug and teary eyes.”
This was written by Betsy Meadow to honor Wilma Ross on her 75th birthday. That’s how Betsy became my mother Wilma’s 4th child, and my accidental sister; a lifelong blessing to us all.
The richness of generosity flows both ways.
Mary (Ross) Magee, Harvard Ave member since 2012
A WIDOW’S MITE
Most of us are familiar with Luke 21:1-4:
He [Jesus] looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw this poor widow putting in two mites [small copper coins]. He said “Truly I say to you, the widow has put in more than all the others. They gave from within their abundance. But this woman, she has put in all the livelihood she had, all she had to live on.”
Reading this text on generosity, I thought about a personal experience that occurred while I was traveling in Israel.
On the dusty road outside Lazarus’ tomb in Bethany, a poor beggar offered to sell me an ancient widow’s mite, a copper coin.
I was the last person running to the bus and signaled to the man that I had no money with me. As I stepped aboard the bus, he thrust one of the mites into my hand. All I could give him was a big smile.
I still treasure that generous gift from the Holy Land…..truly a lesson in generosity.
Linda Rosser McDaniel, Harvard Ave member since 2018