by Rev. Stacy Emerson
Generosity is at its core about relationship. Relationship with God and with our neighbors on this earth. Nurturing community, sharing a meal, inviting people into your home, the smallest act of kindness—all of these are generosity. Think about the most generous person you know. Chances are that the last things that come to mind are how much money they donate or the charities they support. You probably thought of words like “kind and open, loving and compassionate, a good listener and someone who makes you feel valued.” Generosity is all about the nurturing of our souls as we nurture other souls.
Recently, I was at the grocery store with a large cart, stocking up for the week, and as I was beginning to unload my bits onto the conveyor belt, an older woman behind me asked me if it was OK if she helped me empty my cart and she dug in. When I thanked her profusely, letting her know she really didn’t have to (what would my mother say letting an 80-year-old woman lift my groceries?!?)—she spoke in her thick Eastern European accent and motioned with her hands and said, “one hand takes care of the other.” And I was incredibly moved by her kindness and generosity. She taught me that really generosity is something of a way of life, a way of being. It isn’t always calculated or just about money, but about real connections between people that become conduits of kindness and grace. One hand takes care of the other.
Rev. Stacy Emerson is the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in West Hartford, CT and the Stewardship Consultant for ABCUSA. She is also the Coordinator for The Generosity Project which is about helping congregations deepen their understanding of stewardship as a call to generosity as disciples of Jesus; re-framing the stewardship conversation; and cultivating generosity in pastors, lay people, and congregations.