Each month in worship, religious education, and small groups we explore a monthly theme. UUFN is a part of the national Soul Matters Sharing Circle, which inspires us to reflect on how these themes are present in our daily lives.
Scroll down for inspiration about this month's theme.
Our theme for November is The Gift of Generosity. It would be easy to see this as a month of niceness. After all, for many, the call of generosity is equated with the call to be kind.
But that’s not the spiritual understanding, and certainly not the sort of gift our faith sees in generosity.
First of all, it’s transformative. Generosity doesn’t just brighten our days; it changes how we relate to life. Let’s be honest, life can harden us. And before it does that, it often hurts us. So we can’t be blamed for viewing it as a threat. Like some kind of dangerous obstacle course. Or a giant game of King of the Hill, where the winners take all and the rest of us are thrown to the bottom, bruised and empty-handed. No matter which metaphor fits, it’s almost impossible to think our way out of it on our own. But then these seemingly small or sentimental gestures come our way. A person notices we forgot to bring our bus pass and pays for us before we have to ask. The neighbor shovels our part of the driveway while she does hers. The nurse takes a half hour to sit with us while we wait for the results. It wasn’t her job, and she doesn’t have the time, but she did it anyway. In those simple moments, the world suddenly feels less cold. A crack sets in. Our obstacle course, winner-take-all view of life gives way to something softer. We may still hurt, but it also feels as though life itself is trying to help. That’s what generosity does. It transforms.
It also connects. Deep down we know the difference between giving and giving generously. The former is taken from our “extra.” The latter is taken from what is essential. It’s the difference between giving our loose change and giving of ourselves. And when you hand over a part of you to someone else, you’re tethered. Your vulnerability meets their vulnerability. You haven’t just helped; you’ve shown you care. Both of you feel seen. And less alone.
But make no mistake, generosity doesn’t stop there, at care and connection. It also challenges. True generosity doesn’t just ask us to care for people, it also asks us to call them out. When you look at life through the lens of generosity, charity loses its sheen and many of those who have much are exposed as hoarding what others need. It’s sneaky that way. Generosity undermines our comfortable views and invites justice in. It doesn’t just ask us to be kind to others, it also asks us to question why some have so much more than others.
Transform. Connect. Challenge. Not the usual words we pair with generosity. And maybe that’s the point. Maybe the invitation this month is not just to be more generous, but to notice how generosity is bigger than we think.