May 17 – Extravagant Generosity with Jocelyn Dunstan

“You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity.”  2 Corinthians 9:11

Thirty years ago, I visited a brand-new United Methodist Church on a lake front in Virginia. The young pastor spoke of the love of Jesus in such a way that everyone longed to be closer to Jesus, and that included me.

From the day the building opened, it could not accommodate all the people who wanted to attend the worship and mission activities. There were children everywhere.  Church volunteers led Boy and Girl Scouts, youth groups, small children, nursery, and Bible study–meetings that required bales of snacks and beverages, plus educational materials. Most adult groups met at near-by homes.  I loved that church, but it became apparent that the building needed breathing room.

The leaders approved an extended capital campaign. Under a deluge of prayer for God’s guidance and blessing, pledge committee representatives asked each member to make a commitment, both financially and personally. Near the conclusion of the campaign, one Bible study teacher was asked to give witness. He said, “Considering the blessings that God has given to my family and me, we have decided to pledge $1,732 each month to this church.  That amount is slightly larger than our mortgage payment, but we feel it is right for us.”  They had a modest home and two growing boys. Their generosity inspired me deeply, along with many more in the congregation.  God saw that the building grew, as did our missions and our relationships with Him.

Bishop Robert Schnase says, “Generosity enlarges the soul.” That reminded me of the first time I visited a worship service of the congregation that would become Lake Deaton UMC. I stood at the door and gazed at the crowd. Then I whispered, “My Lord, they are so joyous.” I would come to know them as people who mentor local teen-agers, feed the hungry through the food pantry, provide respite to exhausted caregivers, build water wells in Africa, and foster the development of businesses by street children in India.  This is but a partial list.  These are enlarged souls, indeed.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How has someone else’s generosity touched you and shaped your practice of giving?
  2. From whom did you learn generosity?

Prayer: Dear God, Thank you for your countless blessings.  Free our hearts to trust you entirely and to be extravagantly generous in giving and serving you.  In Jesus name. 

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