Living Generously

One thing about living in community, that we have been learning here at Scargill, is to live generously. And what I mean by living generously is being willing to forgive, to go the extra mile, and have a desire to serve. A godly hospitality will be generous and open-hearted.

The life of Jesus was always abundant and extravagant, a generosity that never stopped at what was strictly necessary. For instance, a meal time with Jesus was wonderfully over-the-top such as the wedding at Cana with the miracle of turning water into wine, these six stone jars full of water would have been equivalent to 900 bottles transformed into the best red wine ever. How mischievous and wonderfully outrageous is that! Jesus picnics with 5,000 and there are 12 baskets left over. The resurrected Jesus, who not only cooked breakfast on the beach for his friends, preceded this by a miraculous catch of fish that was so big that they were unable to haul in the nets. Just 3 examples!

In Luke 15, we read the parable of the ‘Lost Son’ which could be better described as the parable of the ‘generous Father’, who is extravagant and lavishes his love upon the homecoming of his son. Jesus shows us an aspect of the Kingdom of God, which is one big heart of generosity – nothing stingy here!

And it is this that we are caught up in at Scargill, that in all our fragility and weakness, and at times getting it wrong, our desire is to reflect this generous heart of God to those who come through our doors. So what does generosity look like at Scargill? Chocolate on the pillow, beautiful flowers round the House, well kept grounds and gardens, a variety of cake on arrival, willingness to have a conversation as to how we can make a guest’s visit the best it can be, care taken over special diets, food made with love, willingness to carry suitcases on arrival and departure and an invitation to our guests to make our home theirs while they are with us.

Walter Brueggemann, in his inspiring book ‘Journey to the common good’, writes that the Church has been given a different narrative to that of the culture and society around us, which often speaks of scarcity. He says, “ that journey from anxious scarcity through miraculous abundance to a neighbourly common good has been peculiarly entrusted to the church.”

Living as Kingdom people, people of faith, creates a mindset of generosity. Let us remember what Jesus said, “freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8

And, of course, being generous is not about what we can get back, as Piero Ferrucci says, “Generosity is, by definition, disinterested.” Think about it.

Nine Hundred Bottles

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This week Scargill’s Director Phil Stone is thinking about the generous love of God.

Those of you who follow the Anglican lectionary will know that today’s gospel reading was The Wedding at Cana. I love this story. It must have been wonderful to taste the wine that Jesus made. Think of the best red wine you have ever drunk and imagine something even better than that! This miracle of water into wine speaks of the God who wants to transform, and the God who does so generously. At Scargill we are all about ‘Lives shared – lives transformed’ with Jesus right at the heart, it is central to our walk with God this acknowledgement that our lives need to be changed. This is a life-long process.

This miracle is about generosity. Those 6 stone jars that are mentioned, we are told, hold 20 to 30 gallons of water. That is a lot of water to be turned into wine. In fact I worked it out that it was approximately 900 bottles – how crazy and how intoxicating! One could sensibly argue that Jesus was being very irresponsible and way over the top. And yet we read that this miracle was the arch sign that revealed his glory. What is thrilling and exciting is that it is this generous love that we get caught up in and are called to give away. A generous God prompts and calls us to be a generous people, generous with our love, forgiveness and our lives. So what might this look like? Well – it might be giving someone some quality time, sharing a meal, an act of kindness or a phone call to a forgotten friend. It could be treating your work colleagues (those you like and those you don’t) to a bag of jam doughnuts and some quality coffee (that would make my day!).

As the wine is poured out at that wedding, enriching the lives of the people, so we too are poured out to be a generous offering to the communities where we live to be a sign of God’s Kingdom.

And talking of glory, just last week we had some glory at Scargill. As the sun was setting I managed to take this picture of the chapel reflecting the sun off its windows – I love this photo, it reminded me as I have been writing this how we are called to reflect God’s generous love to all those around us. I reckon this could be very transforming…

For more details of events and holidays taking place at Scargill check out the programme here which now goes up to December 2013.