New Year's Hope
Doing the Reverse Advent Calendar (see December Vicar’s Letter) led me to some reflections on the resolutions we make at New Year.
Normally these would entail trying to do something that will improve us – lose weight, give up smoking, spend more time with our partner, get fit, learn a new skill and so on. All great things to do, and I have benefited greatly from my decision last year to lose weight, as many of you know (three stone off and counting!). I really couldn’t let the “zero birthday” pass by without wanting to look Fab at Fifty!
Why is it, though, that we are much less likely to make resolutions that enhance the lives of others? We know about the difficult lives some lead, but it is all too easy as we go about our day-to-day business to push them out of mind. Setting aside something each day of Advent for the Food Bank made it much harder to do this, because each day I was faced with making the decision about what I could give that would enhance the life of someone else, in this case a person with a particular need.
I’m writing this letter in early December as that’s what publication dates require, so I haven’t quite got past Christmas to the New Year in my mind. However, I have decided that this year my New’s Year’s Resolution will be based not on doing something for me, but on expressing my care and concern for others in some way.
Generosity is one of the gifts God loves to see in the world. I hold dear the Bible verse which says “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9.7). Generosity springs from love. God’s generosity to us arises out of God’s love for the world. We have so much, although often we are slow to acknowledge that.
One of the best ways of becoming increasingly generous is to become increasingly grateful. As we acknowledge the good things in our lives, our hearts focus on what we have rather than what is missing. That is why some of the poorest Christians in the world are also able to be the most joyful and generous. I’m humbled when I hear them speak of gratitude for so little, and their willingness to share what they have, meagre though it be, with others. It seems that somehow the more we have in material terms, the more we take for granted, and the less willing we are to share.
Jesus commended the poor widow for giving her two small coins to the Temple treasury (Mark 12.41-44). In his eyes, she had given far more to God than the wealthy people who gave a great deal more in material terms but which they’d never miss. It’s the spirit with which the gift is given that counts not the value in pounds and pence.
With best wishes Sarah