Now more than ever give joyfully and generously

Violet, an Illinois third-grader and a member of Grace UMC in Carbondale, holds up her drawing.
Violet, an Illinois third-grader and a member of Grace UMC in Carbondale, holds up her drawing.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Violet, an Illinois third-grader and a member of Grace UMC in Carbondale, heard that her community’s food pantry was struggling because of higher-than-usual demand. Combining her love for art and her love for others, she created and sold colorful, whimsical drawings to support the pantry.

“Right now,” she explained, “because of the coronavirus, people are running out of food. It makes me sad to think about families not having food to eat. I want to help. Helping other people makes me feel happy. It makes me feel good that other people can eat because of what I’m doing.”

If you’ve ever worshiped in Africa, you understand joyful giving. During the time of offering, the congregation sings, claps and dances. And, in heartfelt thanksgiving to the God who provides so generously, people bring their very best gifts – a hen, a goat, a basket of produce – to the altar.

“God loves it when the giver delights in the giving,” the apostle Paul reminded the church at Corinth. “God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. …

Now more than ever, give joyfully and generously 
A food collage from Violet, an Illinois third-grader and a member of Grace UMC in Carbondale, IL.

“This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:7-11, The Message)

“That’s great,” you might be thinking. “But times are tough. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. I’m not sure I have enough for my own family, let alone someone else.” Remember, though, you are part of a mighty church that proclaims the gospel around the world, enriches education, promotes peace and justice, provides health care, works to eradicate poverty and does much more, all in the name of Jesus Christ. This life-changing work continues.

It’s easy to forget to support our church’s ministries when we’re worshiping online and no one is passing an offering plate. But you can do it. Mail a check to your church or, if possible, give online. Give whatever you can. And give some more, even if money is tight.

How? Call or write to church members who live alone. Ask community agencies how you can help remotely. Sew masks to protect essential workers, older adults and other vulnerable people. Contact area educators to learn if you can tutor via Skype. Make something beautiful to share. The possibilities are infinite.

Above all, spend extra time in prayer and Bible study. Give thanks for God’s generous blessings. Then pass them on, sharing with heartfelt, unbridled joy.

Barbara Dunlap-Berg, freelance writer and editor, retired from UMCom

United Methodist Church Giving is about people working together to accomplish something bigger than themselves. In so doing, we effect change around the world, all in the name of Jesus Christ. To read stories about the generosity of United Methodists click here