How do you ask someone to be gracious? We really can’t. We do teach our kids, to the point of expecting them to initiate it on their own as they grow older. By the time they are teens, we assume they “get it”.
How do we ask? We really can’t. It must happen by another’s volition. Why does it seem ok to ask God to be gracious? Perhaps because we have the highest expectations (sometimes demands) for the one who is graciousness personified. We dare, because we are convinced of God’s willingness to be so, to share that graciousness to us and extend it through us.
We are approaching commitment Sunday, when those who give overall direction to this congregation, the session, made up of elders; ask for our full participation in the future of the congregation. They are asking us to be gracious. How do they dare ask? They do because they have each made their commitment, through their gifting financially and in their time. They dare because we each have first made a commitment to be part of a congregation, as members, to share the good news with others, to be extenders of God’s graciousness.
The session gives us a vision, in part what we can see now, kids and parents and singles and couples finding their way to a church that is welcoming and safe, where they can, for the first time find an accepting, rather than a demanding spirit, where they find, despite what they had heard in their youth, they and their kids may find unconditional value.
But we are also given a vision of what will be realized long after we are gone – a vision similar to those who left us this legacy even 141 years ago, that encourages us to be gracious to those who we will not meet, but are confident will enjoy the grace extended by this congregation into the far future. We commit to what we may never see.
My desire for us is for each person, family and household to make a commitment in some way. I would hope that we can see our commitment as graciousness not measured in the quantity of dollars or time, but in the value of willingness. My desire is for each of us to fill in the commitment card we will find on line or in the mail, with financial support and time that affirms our desire to see God in action, to provide the good news to others – 100% involvement in whatever way. Each of us is unique. We don’t compare ourselves and our manner of graciousness to another. What we each do, distinctively, is enough. We each simply desire to be gracious, with what little we have, to extend God’s grace. Just as God accepts us no matter how we respond, we accept each other no matter our capacity to respond.
What better way to speak of our unity than to be able to say, we are all in this together – there is a 100% response, extending this graciousness thing of God. How can we ask this of each other? Because greater is the capacity for grace within and among us than we can imagine, due to the fact that God is present in us and among us and we can dare to be godly, to do what is beyond our personal limits – as we follow Jesus.