Generosity of God

Revd. Heather
Sunday, February 16, 2020 - 9:30am

Many years ago now, at the church I was in at Bristol we used to take meals round to families when they had a baby. I remember cooking and dropping meals round to friends. I enjoyed doing it, it was a nice thing to do. Yet wasn’t until after Grace was born, and our NCT group from when Isaac was born, out of the blue offered to bring meals for a week, and often portions so large they did lunch the next day, that I realised quite how amazing meals on wheels is! We felt well and truly blessed. Now when friends have babies, cooking a meal for them is such a delight. Having experienced it first hand, I now feel really joyful that I can offer something practical to help. 

There’s something amazing about generosity. It’s so often unexpected, eliciting thankfulness and joy.  And the more you get caught up in it the deeper the joy! 

Our reading from Genesis today reminds of the radical generosity of God. A generosity that is far bigger than meals on wheels, far bigger than we can dare imagine. Of God who brought forth light, earth, vegetation, seasons, living creatures in the sea and on the land, humankind; and rest. Of God who brought forth the whole of creation, and who promises to provide for all creation. And it is in the context of the creation story, of God’s radical generosity, that we hear our Gospel reading today, with Jesus’ words that we are not to worry about what we will eat or drink or wear… 

For God has provided all that we need. It’s just that we cannot always see that. There’s an imbalance in the world that means that there are those who have more than they need, and there are those who do not have enough. There are those who worry about what to do with the surplus – how to store it, save it, ensure that they keep it for their future. And there are those who worry about not having enough – where will the next meal come from? What will happen when my child grows out of their clothes?   

This conundrum, of God’s generosity and our worry is at the heart of our Gospel reading today. Yet as so often is the case, context is key. This passage today comes as part of the first of five teaching discourses in Matthew’s Gospel. This first discourse famously begins with the beatitudes – God’s blessings – generously poured out upon the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted, those who are reviled on account of their faith in Jesus. Later in that same discourse we have Jesus’ teaching on prayer and significantly the Lord’s Prayer with that line ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ Those words that calls us to trust God’s generosity that our needs for each day will be met, reminding us of that time during the exodus that God provided bread day after day as manna in the wilderness: it was not to be stored, there was just as much as the Israelites needed each day. 

It is following on from the Lord’s prayer – and warnings about not storing up earthly treasures – that we get this teaching about not to worry, but instead to strive for the Kingdom of God. 

Within this teaching Jesus calls us to trust: ‘Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?’ To trust that God will provide for us as God provides for all creation. To trust that there will be enough for us all. 

For when we seek the Kingdom of God, we seek a Kingdom where the lavish generosity of God is known and shared. And when God’s lavish generosity is known and shared there is enough to go around. A theme we’ll see again in Matthew’s Gospel – think of the feeding of the 5,000 men plus women and children in Chapter 14, God provided so much food that there were 12 basketfuls left over.

So what for us today? We are called to trust in the lavish generosity of God. The lavish generosity of God seen in creation, the lavish generosity of God providing time and time again our daily bread, the lavish generosity of God in ensuring that there is enough to go round. And above all the lavish generosity of God reaching out to us in Jesus, of His sacrificial death through which He promises us life with God for ever. Of God’s generosity in offering us love and forgiveness time and time again, so that when we mess up – when we fail to strive for the Kingdom of God, God calls us back to Godself to try again.   

It is this generosity of God which we recall and celebrate every time that we gather here to celebrate the Eucharist together. That wonderful generosity of God to reach out to us, to come to be with us in this sacrament, pouring out the gift of the Holy Spirit upon our gifts of bread and wine, and upon our lives. A generosity that draws out from us a response of thankfulness and joy. 

For when we get caught up in the generosity of God we discover a joy that is deeper than our fear, that reminds us to be thankful for what we have today rather than worrying about tomorrow. When we get caught up in the generosity of God, we become more confident to live generous lives, to share the practical and spiritual gifts that God has given us with others, and we trust too the generosity of others – opening our hearts up to receive from them. In short, when we get caught up in the generosity of God, we strive for the Kingdom of God.  

And so, as we celebrate the Eucharist together here today, may we be drawn every more deeply into the generosity of God. Amen.