On Friday I got a parcel. It was a jigsaw puzzle.  I had mentioned to someone during a phone conversation that as a family, during lockdown, we had developed this love for puzzles.  We have done quite a few. We ordered a couple online, three we got during a 2m social distancing swap (please forgive us) and then this one through the post. It arrived with some pound coins taped to it with a printed label, with instructions that once we had done it we should post it onto the person whose address details were already on the label.  The money was to cover the cost of stamps.  I heard (through the grapevine) that the person whose name was on the label also received a jigsaw that day, with pound coins taped onto theirs, just like ours, with a label with my name and address on. Their instructions were to send it onto us, when they had done theirs.

I think what struck me was not just the thoughtfulness of the gift, but the detail that went into making sure our blessing could be passed onto others, and that their blessing would find its way to us. I began to think about the heart of a person (who in this story will remain nameless, they would hate the fanfare) who would go to such lengths to make sure that the blessing of one gift could be doubled to give more. In this scenario we would all be blessed, not just once, but twice! 

The gift itself was not extravagant, but it was given with extravagant kindness and thoughtfulness, from an extravagant heart to be generous. 

This is just one story of a number of stories I could have chosen for my blog this week. I could have chosen the homemade biscuits delivered to my door, or the yellow rose bush through the letterbox, each gift carefully and thoughtfully given. The cards that have arrived, a text message, an email. It’s those little things that remind me I am being thought of. 

Each one prompting me and challenging me that I can always be a better, a growing ‘giver’. This season is giving us the opportunity to be creative, to explore and consider the joy of being generous givers.

And there is great joy in giving. The bible reminds us in Acts 20:35 of the words of Jesus, the greatest of all givers ‘Giving brings a far greater blessing than receiving.’  Jesus talks about it being ‘the joy that was set before him that he endured.’ The real joy was found in the giving.

Generosity is like a seed that is planted in our hearts, that if watered will grow and flourish and spread. It isn’t designed to be limited to a pot or a border, constrained and confined to its’ immediate comfortable environment. Generosity is the happiness to give time, money, food or kindness to people in need, generosity is when we are happy to be forgiving and gentle towards people. There is something so beautiful about a generous spirit. 

Would our world look different if we all determined to grow in the gift of generosity?  Would our hearts be softer to each other?  At the church I am part of (Meadowhead Christian Fellowship) in Sheffield, generosity is a core value. A belief that we can have a bigger and broader impact on our community, our society and our world if what we do comes from a place of growing generosity.

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