The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. A sense of awe came over everyone. God performed many wonders and signs through the apostles. All the believers were united and shared everything. They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them. -Acts 2:42-45

When my son Luke was three years old, he discovered the joy of sharing. Specifically, he found that not only was it really fun to participate in the things adults were doing, like putting money in the offering plate at church or the donation box at the children’s museum, but that those same adults encouraged and complimented him whenever he put in a gift. Money, Luke discovered, was most delightful when given away. If he found spare change or dollar bill sitting around, he was sure to declare, “We can give this to the Library!” or “the Church!” or “the Museum!” or “the Food Pantry!”

It might occur to an adult or even an older child to scoff at such reckless generosity. But when I considered that all my child’s needs and many of his wants were being met by me, I found that I didn’t want to encourage Luke to save some for a rainy day or consider buying his own ice cream cone when we next walked to Dairy Queen. No, I wanted to encourage generosity. I wanted to see his face light up every time he found money and made plans to give it away. I wanted my child to experience sharing as joy.

The book of Acts tells us that the first Christians were recklessly generous, too. As their community grew, it attracted all sorts of people–including an awful lot who didn’t have anything to bring but themselves: poor, marginalized, powerless. Those who had anything at all, especially those who owned property, found themselves facing a decision: keep what they had for themselves in case they needed it down the road or give what they had to their community with trust that they would also receive what they needed when the time came.

They chose generosity.

Generosity isn’t just a lesson for us to teach our children. It’s not just a nice option when we have leftovers. Generosity is a choice we get to make every time we decide how to use what we have. Will we put ourselves first, or will we put the community first?

It’s almost comical to imagine this conversation with the other things we share in community. When someone brings home a new baby, you don’t say, “Well, if I bring them a casserole I might not have a casserole for me next month, so I better not.” When someone’s spouse is hospitalized, you don’t say, “I am worried that if I send them a card, there may not be enough cards to go around when I’m in the hospital one day.” When a visitor stops by RLC for the first time, you don’t say, “I better not welcome them or else I might find myself kicked off the limited membership list.” (To be really clear: there is no limit on the membership list.)

In our strategic plan, we identified sharing as one of four priorities. By using what we all have together, we have the opportunity to do ministry that none of us could do alone: sharing meals, support groups, fellowship, garden spaces, and more. We also share in order to make ministry possible for those who will come after us: paying down the mortgage principal so that tomorrow’s congregation isn’t left to bear today’s expenses and giving to special projects in trust that the Holy Spirit is working through them to nurture disciples.

When we share together, we find purpose. We also find joy. I hope that you will choose generosity and be part of the joyful sharing we can experience when we join in the Forward in Faith Together Campaign at RLC.