Preaching generosity

Preaching generosity

This lectionary-based resource is here to help you preach confidently not just about money, but about generosity in every sense. 


Preaching Generosity is a new, weekly, bite-sized preaching resource, produced by the Diocese of Rochester in partnership with St Augustine’s College of Theology and the National Giving Team of the Church of England.

Each week, a short sermon idea drawn from one of that week’s Common Worship lectionary readings will be made available to give preachers the tools to become comfortable and confident in preaching about generosity.

For weekly inspiration direct to your inbox our inbox, please register here


June 2022

 

Sunday 12 June.  Trinity 1.  Luke 8:26-39

How do we explain God’s generosity to others?

“Return to your home and declare how much God has done for you.” (Luke 8.39). Jesus tells the man who had been possessed by demons to tell of God’s generosity. Generosity of healing in this case. When God is generous to us, what is our response to that generosity? Do we tell others of the great gifts that have been bestowed on us, or do we keep quiet about it? If we do tell others, how do we choose to go about it? The method we choose may differ according to the gifts and talents that we have. Some may be called to be teachers, some may be gifted as healers, some may be skilled as listeners. We all have been given gifts, how can we use them to tell others of God’s generosity towards all of His creation? Our generous use of our talents in response to God’s generosity to all.

Trevor Marshall is Priest in Charge at Tangmere and Oving in the Diocese of Chichester, and National Giving Ministry Advisor.
 
Sunday 19 June. Trinity 2.  Gal.5.1,13-25

For freedom Christ has set us free.

When we are ‘in Christ’ nothing can ultimately constrain us; we are the freest people in the world. When we are captivated by Christ we sing his song and dance his dance, even if outward circumstances are hard, as they are at times for all of us.

That inner freedom hopefully unleashes an outer freedom too – a freedom to be generous in every area of our lives. Nelson Mandela said, ‘To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.’ In other words, real freedom focuses not on our own ability to do what we like, but on our desire to make a difference to the wellbeing of others.

Those opportunities comes many times every day. We just have to notice when they arrive.

John Pritchard is a former Bishop of Oxford and author of many popular books.

 
July

 
Sunday 3 July.  Trinity 3.   Isaiah 66. 10-14, Ps 66. 1-8 Galatians 6 [1-6]7-16, Luke 10. 1-11,16-20

We prosper when we respond to the generous heart of God

There can be a temptation to think of prosperity only in terms of money, and ‘prosperity’ can have negative connotations for some.  But in God’s economy, prosperity is a sign of the breaking in of God’s presence and God’s kingdom. All around us creation prospers, in the annual harvest, but also in the renewing of what is broken or damaged. Notice how quickly weeds appear when you think you have cleared the ground. Creation prospers. We prosper when we respond to the generous heart of God, receive of God’s generosity and overflow in sharing it, like a healthy river, or with the energy the disciples had for their missional activity. Those who are close to the heart of God cannot but be generous because God is all generous. We respond to the generosity of God when our service, whatever that might be, is freely offered for the benefit of others and the glory of God.

Jane Winter is Assistant Director of Formation and Ministry in the Diocese of Rochester.
Sunday 10 July.  Trinity 4. Col 1.1-14

They are precious because of what God has done for them

‘To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ…’ (Col. 1.2) What a very nice way to be addressed. No doubt the church in Colossae was not perfect. Their need for moral instruction (later in the letter) bears witness to this. Yet Paul chose to address them in the most favourable way he could – acknowledging their status in Christ. He reminds himself, as he reminds his recipients, that they are precious because of what God has done for them in Christ. He allows that generosity of status to be the perspective from which he offers them any other teaching or counsel. Can that be an example today: that we think of, and even address, our fellow Christians in the most favourable way we can?

Simon Stocks is Senior Tutor at St Augustine’s College of Theology

Sunday 17 July.  Trinity 5.  Psalm 15

God gives without hope of gain

“does not lend money in the hope of gain. … Whoever does these things shall never fall.” (Psalm 15:5). One of the nicest gifts my family ever gave me was an account with ‘Lendwithcare’. There was £25 in the account. Not an earth shattering amount of money, but it does mean that I can lend money without the hope of gain. The money that I have loaned out has been used to buy land for a subsistence farmer to expand his farm, meaning that he can afford to send his children to school. A relatively small thing on my part has been life changing for his family. If I don’t get the money back, I can ask myself if losing the money has had a negative impact on my life. And the answer is “no”. God gives without hope of gain. He sets us an example to follow.

Trevor Marshall is Priest in Charge at Tangmere and Oving in the Diocese of Chichester, and National Giving Ministry Advisor.

Sunday 24 July.  Trinity 6.  Genesis 18.20-32, Ps138, Colossians 2.6-15 [16-19], Luke 11. 1-13

Forgiveness is generous

(Genesis 18.20-32)  Imagine the conversation between Abraham and God, bartering at its best, God smiling as Abraham tries his luck time and again. How far dare he push God for the sake of wicked Sodom? Forgiveness is a generous act, not because we forgive but because of the amazing way that God forgives. Given the slightest opportunity, God lavishes forgiveness on us and desires His children to receive good things in abundance.

Forgiveness doesn’t come easy. It is generous but it is costly. It cost the cross. It costs us. To let go of what has hurt us and forgive requires that we abound in the goodness of God’s generosity. We may easily put cash in the charity bucket or tap the card reader but it’s much more demanding to forgive.  Welcoming and loving those who have hurt us with the welcome and love God offers – that is generosity, the way of the kingdom of God.

Jane Winter is Assistant Director of Formation and Ministry in the Diocese of Rochester.

Sunday July 31.  Trinity 7. Col. 1.-11

‘Your life is hidden with Christ in God.’

…and therefore ‘Christ is our life.’ (v 4). We are united with Christ in the way that a sponge is united with water – it’s immersed in that which at the same time flows through it. The great illusion is to think that Christ is absent and we have to go and find him. Our union with Christ doesn’t so much have to be acquired as to be recognised.

This gives us a new perspective on life. We have been raised with Christ and therefore seek the things that are above, in particular the self-giving character of Christ. If Christ is our life we’re bound to want to share and express those attractive qualities of Christ that drew us to him for ourselves – the generosity, grace, and unconditional love that in his lifetime made him so popular in Galilee, and so threatening in Jerusalem.

A new perspective, a new love.

John Pritchard is a former Bishop of Oxford and author of many popular books.

 
August
 
Sunday 7 August.  Trinity 8.  Psalm33.12-21

No-one is forgotten

‘He watches all the inhabitants of the earth’ (Ps 33.14) It is quite common to use the phrase ‘blinkered’ in a negative sense: being too narrow in what is seen. Conversely, getting the ‘big picture’ or taking the ‘long view’ are often seen as good. It can be helpful to ‘stand back’ and to ‘put things in context’. The verse from the psalm no doubt was intended to convey the totality of God’s perspective. But perhaps we can read in it a sense of God’s willingness to take everyone into account, with all their varied needs and desires. If so, it can encourage us to be generous and take as broad a view of things as we can. Are there people who are beyond the scope of our perspective? How might we extend our vision, so that no-one is forgotten?

Simon Stocks is Senior Tutor, St Augustine’s College of Theology

 
Sunday 14 August.  Trinity 9.  Hebrews 11:29-12:2

What is important?

“Let us also lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us”(Hebrews 12.1). So many times in life, I have been distracted by what I thought was success. When our children were growing up, my well paid job meant that I was always late home, tired and stressed. It was only when a wise mentor of mine advised me to write down what was important that I realised the relentless pursuit of wealth meant that my ability to be generous with time for my family was limited.  A written list of what was actually important meant that whenever I was given a choice, I knew what I was aiming for. As a church responding to God, we can write down what is important and then make sure that we persevere in being generous in those areas.

Trevor Marshall is Priest in Charge at Tangmere and Oving in the Diocese of Chichester, and National Giving Ministry Advisor.

Sunday 21 August. Trinity 10.  Isaiah 58.9b-end, Ps 103. 1-8, Hebrews 12. 18-end, Luke 13.10-17

We are released

Bound, burdened and bowed down are not words easily associated with generosity. They are though the experience for so many of us when things beyond our control affect physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. We may have had the experience of being laid low and know how it can affect our ability to live well.  Scriptures flow with the story of freedom for individuals and communities, a freedom that releases a heartfelt natural response of generosity towards God. True worship is not bound by rules and conditions it is a spontaneous outpouring of gratitude and praise. The single greatest act of generosity we offer God is worship. The delight of sabbath worship which brings rest and restoration, and worship that drives our Christian activity of meeting the needs of others. From bowed down, burdened and bound we are released to worship with generosity of mind, body and spirit.

Jane Winter is Assistant Director of Formation and Ministry in the Diocese of Rochester.

Sunday 28 August.  Trinity 11.    Jeremiah 2.4-13

Every good thing was made available

‘I brought you into a plentiful land …. my people have forsaken me’ (Jer 2.7,13) The bounty of God in dealing with His people is two-fold here. Through Jeremiah, God first recounts the bounty that He bestowed on the people of Israel. Every good thing was made available for them. That was God’s generous initiative, through no merit or action of their own. In the context of the passage, that gift is a memory, for the people have since abandoned their thankful devotion to God and are facing the consequences. But God has not abandoned them! God has not walked away. Instead, God is still there, addressing the people, giving them chance to change their ways. For all their rejection, God will not give up on them utterly, but keeps warning them and trying to bring them back to their right minds. This is bountiful forbearance in the face of stubbornness.

Simon Stocks is Senior Tutor, St Augustine’s College of Theology

 
September
 
Sunday 4 September.  Trinity 12.  Luke 14.25-33

First sit down and estimate the cost

Counting the cost of a venture is a sound first step. There is a cost to discipleship, says Jesus, and it means putting Christ ahead even of family loyalties. Sometimes it will feel like carrying a cross to a seriously bad place. So count the cost before you leap in.

This has surprisingly practical implications. I remember at university my church rector teaching about giving, which to a poor student wasn’t an enticing prospect. So, he said, count the cost, think what you can afford – and then double it! That was the challenge of the gospel, not to be wise simply in a worldly way but to be wise in a heavenly way, and to trust that God would make up the difference.

Surprisingly (or not) it works!

John Pritchard is a former Bishop of Oxford and author of many popular books.

Sunday 11 September.  Trinity 13.  Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28

He will not abandon us

“I have not relented nor will I turn back” (Jeremiah 4.28) This passage reminds us that although we can be foolish in God’s eyes, He will not abandon us in our time of need. This leads me to wonder how often we are tempted to abandon God when we are in our time of need? There are times when responding to God can be difficult. When He calls us, we may be laden with troubles and distractions. When we set out on our personal journey to love God and respond to that generous love, will we relent or turn back because of worldly concerns? Are there times when our worldly needs get in the way of our generosity? Our generosity can be relentless, not turning back when the going gets hard because we know God will never abandon us.

Trevor Marshall is Priest in Charge at Tangmere and Oving in the Diocese of Chichester, and National Giving Ministry Advisor.

18 September.  Trinity 14.  Amos 8. 4-7, Ps113, 1 Timothy 2.1-7, Luke 16 1-13

All wealth is of God

Few of us would want to own up to being a slave of money, but we’re all aware of the song, ‘Money makes the world go around’.  We depend on the movement of money individually and as societies, and although once just the tool to enable the flow of trade, now money is itself the object of trade.  Being part of the economy though need not mean the same as ‘serving’ money.  If we chose to serve God then we live by a different economic standard, one that requires the flourishing of everyone, one that calls out bad practice and challenges the misuse of wealth. A standard of generosity that does not count the cost but recognises that all wealth is of God. A gift even if hard earned and a gift with responsibility to use it for the growth of God’s kingdom not our own. Who will we serve? 

Jane Winter is Assistant Director of Formation and Ministry in the Diocese of Rochester.

25 September.  Trinity 15.  Luke 16.19-end

We have received – not earned or won

‘You received your good things’ (Lk 16.25) This simple expression belies its significance. ‘You received.’ You did not earn, or gather, or win, or produce. You received. The implication is that every person’s lot in life is, in some sense, from God. There is an element of mystery about why Lazarus should have received a bad lot. But the message of the parable is clear: God will recompense those who receive a bad lot, and God places expectations on those who receive good things. For those with good things, how much easier it is to share when we recognise them as things received – not earned or gathered or won or produced. And for those who receive a bad lot – there is surely good to come.

Simon Stocks is Senior Tutor, St Augustine’s College of Theology

 

 

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Key Contacts

Liz Mullins

Generous Giving Adviser

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