In the midst of some troubling times, I’ve got an offer…and then a really radical offer…to share with you…
First, the La Crosse Area Synod has a ministry called “Synod School of Theology” (full disclosure – I’m on the board for the school.) In usual time (or what was once usual), the school met at Our Savior’s. The school offers a variety of courses in Bible, theology, ministry, etc, but with no exams or grades. There is a cost (around $20/class). The classes met on Thursdays for six weeks in the fall, then winter, then spring.
This year is different – really different! This year we are teaching the classes via Zoom. Zoom requires a computer with internet, along with a camera and a microphone. Moreover, we are teaching one class. So, no driving, no long evenings, and best of all – this term is FREE!!!
Jacob Sorenson is teaching this term’s class on the first five books of the Bible (that includes stories on creation, Noah and the Ark, Moses, the Ten Commandments, and more.) Classes meet on Thursdays, from 6-7:30 PM, through May 21, via Zoom.
So, here’s the offer part. Classes began last week, BUT Jake Sorenson has invited others to join yet this week. He is excited to offer the class, and YOU can take it…for FREE. If you are interested, get back to me before Thursday evening, and I’ll get you the link. Give it a try! Who knows? You might even like it…and you can’t beat the price!
OK, now let’s get radical.
A lot of emotions, opinions, and beliefs floating around these days. The past week has seen tensions rise as people are itching to get back into a flow of life, even as the pandemic is still peaking in some areas of the country, and health experts warn that a premature easing could lead to an even greater “second wave.” Even this evening, as I write this the headlines proclaim the President saying it’s too early to reopen the economy, and that there is growing evidence that Covid-19 can cause strokes in younger adults. Will this ever end?
And what could possibly be radical after all we have endured?
How about generosity?
Two stories…the first you can follow in this link: https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/free-taxi-ride-spain-to-italy-trnd/index.html.
In a nutshell, a taxi driver from Spain took a young woman, who was stranded, home to Italy (a 12 hour drive across several borders) – and didn’t charge her for the ride. When she insisted on paying, he said, “I don’t want to get advantage of you, I see you are in a difficult situation, don’t worry about the cost.”
That is generosity. The willingness to share with someone in need, and not count the cost.
Then the second story…a bit closer to home…right here in West Salem. A family (I don’t know who they are) decided that the stimulus check they get is really not something they need. Both parents still have their jobs, and they know there are others who don’t and who are struggling. They, along with their kids, decided to use a portion of their check to support local businesses and make a difference in the lives of others. One of their kids came up with a plan! So May 2, from 9-Noon, they will partner with Le Coulee Cheese Castle to provide 400 (yes, you read that right!) free “one scoop ice cream dishes.”
That too is generosity!
And generosity is not something we are hearing about too often these days.
Now, to be fair, Pastor Jean and I have seen a bit (actually a lot) of generosity. The financial support we have received at church continues to be strong. THANK YOU for your generosity – our ministries, including connecting with people, confirmation and Bible study, Sunday School videos, and videos with worship and a children’s message have continued. We have engaged in pastoral care, housed the food pantry, and the Feed the Children ministry has been hopping – all thanks to your generosity. So…thank you again!
But now along comes the stimulus money.
Some in our community, even some of you who are reading this, may need that infusion of cash. On the other hand, some of us (including Pastor Jean and myself), don’t really NEED this extra boost. It’s welcome, and I’ll certainly take it. But…
I wonder…can we be generous?
Money that is in some sense a “gift,” and a bit of a bonus. Can I be generous with this small windfall and share with someone or some place that can use the boost?
Pastor Jean and I have decided to do just that. Here’s what we are doing. We are setting aside $250 as a challenge – for every person or family who signs up for recurring, automatic giving to Our Savior’s (you can do that at www.oursaviorswestsalem.org/giving) we will give $50 to Feed Our Children. So if you’ve been thinking about automatic giving, this is the time to do it!
Just trying to be generous!
So, what about you? We invite you to join us in some fashion, by being generous, by being…radical? If you really don’t need the stimulus money, can you find a way to share a portion – with Our Savior’s? With Feed Our Children? The Salvation Army? Or another charitable organization that meets the needs of people?
How you do it…and how much you do…that’s your call. Just find a way to practice generosity. Really, it doesn’t hurt – in fact, it’s kind of fun! And it’s faithful!
And if you are one who really needs that money, try to figure out another way to be generous. For example, I heard of a pastor who suggested to a family in that kind of a situation that maybe taking a small amount to “treat” themselves to a take out dinner that they otherwise would have skipped would be an act of generosity as they supported a local business.
Whatever you do, do it with generosity – just like a generous God who continues to support you, sustain you, and hold you in the embrace of the crucified and risen Jesus.
And maybe with a bit of generosity we can see this pandemic through different eyes, not as a time for fear, apprehension, and even conflict, but as a time of living in God’s grace. Yes, the times are tough, and yes, it’s wearing on all of us.
But…God is still with us…God is still holding us…and God is still generous!