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Extravagant Generosity




“[Jesus said], ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’” (Matthew 6:19-21, NRSV)


“Be careful what you wish for” is wise advice. Whatever captures our imagination gets planted like a seed in our hearts that produces a predictable harvest. Our wishes become our intentions. The things we treasure have a way of infiltrating our spirits and altering our values. If we wish for something that won’t last, we’ll spend our lives chasing temporary satisfaction and doing anything for momentary gratification. Yet, if we focus our desires on more satisfying and meaningful experiences, we’re less likely to settle for the tinsel and glitter of a passing whim or fancy. We’ll strive for nobler and more satisfying lives.


Jesus said that “things” are no match for “relationships.” What we love must be able to love us in return. If we love things, we live disappointing lives because things are incapable of loving us back. It’s also true that things don’t last, and so we have them but for a while. Even when we lose those we love, they never entirely leave us, for we treasure them in our hearts forever.


Harold Kushner told the story of a young boy and girl building a sandcastle on the seashore. They were hard at work forming an elaborate structure with towers and moats. Just when they nearly finished it, a big wave came along and knocked it down, reducing it to a heap of wet sand. Kushner expected the children to be devastated by this development, when instead, they ran up the shore away from the water, laughing and holding hands, and sat down to build another castle. He said,


“I realized that they had taught me an important lesson. All the things in our lives, all the complicated structures we spend so much time and energy creating, are built on sand. Only our relationships with other people endure. Sooner or later, the wave will come along and knock down what we have worked so hard to build up. When that happens, only the person who has somebody’s hand to hold will be able to laugh.” --Harold Kushner in When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough


At First United Methodist Church of Florence, we strive to create sacred spaces for building more significant relationships. Through worshiping God, engaging with one another at meaningful levels, and selflessly serving others, we believe we can experience lives of significance, and we want to invite others into this transforming experience. The challenges of doing this kind of ministry in the 21st century require creativity, innovation, and perseverance. Your support of our church is what drives our ability to reach more and more people with the good news that a life built on relationships, and not things, is the best life possible. Please join us in giving significantly and sacrificially to what God is doing here.


This coming Sunday, October 31st, is our Stewardship Celebration, where, in all three services, we may place our Estimate of Giving cards in the offering plates as a sign of our wishes and dreams for giving in 2022. I treasure what God is doing here, so I will give as generously as possible to the ministry of our church. I encourage you to do the same. Together, we can build a stronger future for our congregation. It takes every one of us to contribute our part to make this dream a reality. Thank you in advance for your generosity and faithfulness! I hope to see you Sunday as we take the next step in our adventure.

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