Week 1 - Growing in: Generous Relationships
Week 1 of the Generous Hearts, Generous Hands course.
Read Chapter 1 of the book of Ruth.
Naomi’s story is about the gift of generous relationships. Naturally, Naomi is lonely in her grief. She feels isolated from God, let down by God. She is lonely, but not alone. She has Orpah and Ruth. She has a community who remember her, welcome her. She has a God who loves her though she cannot see, feel or know that love.
These generous relationships will change Naomi’s life. But not quickly. Grief takes time to heal, and so will Naomi’s bruised faith and anger at God. Grief cannot be rushed. Nor can it stand still.
Generous relationships allow Naomi to be brutally honest about her shattered faith. She says in verse 8 that God’s hand is turned against her. She asks her old friends in Bethlehem to change her name from Naomi which means ‘pleasant’ or ‘sweet’ to Mara, which means ‘Bitter’. Naomi doesn’t sugar coat her grief or anger.
But Ruth stays close. Ruth sees more than Naomi hollowed out by grief. Ruth sees more than Naomi’s anger with God. She promises Naomi, ‘where you go, I go, where you stay, I stay’ (Ruth 1:16). They are wonderful, moving words. But Naomi says nothing. No acknowledgement. No gratitude. She is silenced by her grief, her disappointment, her anger.
But although Naomi’s life is bitter Ruth’s generous love has kept Naomi’s heart from bitterness. Naomi can receive the generous, healing love gifted to her by Ruth. And because Naomi can receive the grace of generous love she can generously pray that God will give to Ruth and Orpah happiness of home and husband that God has taken from Naomi (Ruth 1:8-9).
Generosity is not only about the grace of giving; it is about the grace of receiving. Clenched fists can receive nothing, give nothing. On our journey into generous discipleship our first question is not, ‘What should I give?’ Rather, the first question is, ‘What have I received?’. Because everything we have is God’s gift to us: to receive and enjoy and to give and share generously (1 Tim 6:17-18).
Lord, sometimes it all seems too much. I feel sad, scared or stuck. I feel angry, anxious, alone. Keep me from bitterness. At Harvest we receive and share your gifts with joy and gladness. Give me grace to receive the generous love of others and nurture in me a generous heart that blesses others. Amen
Take a moment to think of the generous relationships that sustain you. Then, think of one person who you can bless with a quick text, a thoughtful email, a phone call or a chat over coffee.
Generous Hearts, Generous Hands
Harvest is a special time in the life of many churches. The fruit and food and flowers in church remind us of the good things God has given to us. We often share a Harvest Supper together to celebrate God’s abundance. We come together in worship to say thank you. And we give, food and money, to extend a loving hand to those in our community and beyond who feel the sharp sting of hunger and loss.Course 4 PartsTotal current bookmarks 1