I’d like to start this message with a snippet of the sermon on Sunday, given by Clark Thompson.
“We often harbor the illusion that we can fix all of our problems ourselves. We in the modern West are especially enamored of this illusion. We created the myth of the rugged individual who is totally self-sufficient and solves all challenges by simply pulling himself up by the bootstraps. Such individualism comes at a cost. It is one of many factors that have brought revolutionary, though ultimately negative, change to our society. The 20th century bore witness to the weakening of Americans’ sense of community, the fracturing of the American family, and an incremental rejection of God and church that continues to this day.”
“The weakening of Americans’ sense of community.” Do you feel it? I do.
In some ways, it’s because we ARE self-sufficient. During The Freeze in 2021, our neighbors had a group text where one set of neighbors offered to let others use their pool water to flush their toilet, and someone else said if anyone needed anything from the store to let her know because she might have what was needed. And while I was so appreciative of the concept, turns out, we didn’t actually end up needing each other. We all got on just fine. I sometimes think about that and wish I could go back and take someone up on their offer. Not because I NEEDED it. But just to feel connected.
In other ways, of course, we DO have need, but we also don’t want to feel like a burden. Or we don’t feel safe enough to be vulnerable. Or we’re not sure who would even care enough about us to help. And so we make do. But we feel the lack. The lack of support. The lack of community.
As we think about generosity here at UCC, I want us to think beyond just giving money. Money is a part of it, of course, but it’s not the only need and it’s not the only solution.
Some of us need someone to listen. Or to take us to the airport. Or to watch our kids for a couple of hours so we can go to a doctor appointment. Or to fix that stupid door that doesn’t close right. Or to invite us over for Thanksgiving so we don’t spend the holiday alone. Or to ask us about how that visit with our mom went because they know the relationship is troubled.
We like to be thought of as generous people, as people with excess. But in real community, we are both. Relationships, community, connection - that’s how we get our own needs met and meet the needs of others. Let’s be generous with our money, yes. But let’s also be generous with (and to) ourselves.
Over the next week, try to think of a non-monetary way in which you can be generous with someone; and then think of a need you might have, one that can be met within community.
In community with you,
Stewardship Team Lead
“The need for connection and community is primal, as fundamental as the need for air, water, and food.” -Dean Ornish