“Generosity costs us something–and it is because it costs us something that generosity is actually meaningful.” –Steve Lawson
The question of what makes a meaningful life is one we’ve all explored. It’s at the heart of every religious and philosophical tradition. Of course, that question contains a multitude of responses. We’re born into families and identities that shape how we make meaning in and of our lives, and our experiences along the way may redefine for us what is meaningful.
When I saw Steve Lawson’s email in my inbox, the subject line read, “The Ultimate Gift Is a Life of Meaning.” It was intriguing enough to open his monthly blog post, but I did not expect his first sentence to read, “Generosity is directly connected to meaning.” He argues that every choice we make comes at a cost in our lives, and because generosity costs us something, it inherently holds meaning.
If we follow Lawson’s premise, and what we give is an avenue to meaning-making, then the reverse may also be true. Perhaps we discern what is meaningful to us by examining where/what/who we are generous towards. We might examine questions that ask us how we spend our time, where we give our money, and who receives our gifts as a way to understand what gives our lives meaning. And in this examination, we might find a discrepancy between what we believe is meaningful and how we spend our days.
Often when we talk about generosity in congregational life, we’re almost exclusively referring to money. And yes, money matters—how we do our work depends on it. However, generosity in congregational life also involves the giving of our time. What we give our time to is not just what interests us but what we find meaningful. Whether it’s weeding the grounds, filling the BeLoved pantry, joining a committee, or serving as a worship associate, we bring meaning to our common life by sharing generously of our time, talent, and money.
As we begin this new program year, we invite you to explore meaning-making in the life of our congregation through generosity. We’ll have several opportunities for you to learn how to get involved. We’re also bringing back tabling on Sundays during after-service coffee starting this weekend. More information about opportunities will be available in future eNews editions.