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The Rev. Dr. Debra Samuelson The Rev. Dr. Debra Samuelson

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Count it all Joy!

October 12, 2009

Anne Lamott was asked once in an interview about her relationship to money.  Now as a single mother trying to make ends meet off her writing, money was not always plentiful in their household.  There were even times she had to rely on friends to help them get by.  In this interview she said, "I know that if I feel any deprivation or fear (about money) the solution is to give.  The solution is to go find some mothers on the streets of San Raphael and give them tens and twenties and mail off another $50.00 to Doctors Without Borders to use for the refugees in Kosovo...I know that giving is the way we can feel abundant.  Giving is the way that we fill ourselves up...For me the way to fill up is through service and sharing and getting myself to give more than I feel comfortable giving." (Quoted from M.J. Ryan The Giving Heart, Berkeley, CA Corani Press, 2000. P. 20)

A friend of mine recently told me that she thinks the recession has made us miserly, not just low on funds.  I think she is right.  I see a "scarcity" attitude all around us these days.  "Give" has become a four letter word, it seems.

In the Gospel of Mark a rich man wants to know what it takes to inherit eternal life.  Mark tells us, "Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor...then come, follow me." (Mark 10:21)

Notice the motivation for Jesus' words.  They were not spoken to create guilt in the rich man, rather the motivation is love on Jesus' part:  "Jesus, looking at him, loved him..."  When you love someone you want the very best for that person.  So what is the "very best" that Jesus wants for this rich man?  Jesus wants for this man to live his life with joy.  Jesus came that we may have life in abundance!  Jesus knows that there is abundant life and joy in giving.  That's what Anne Lamott was saying in her interview.  There is joy, there is freedom, there is an abundance of life in giving. 

It's counterintuitive, I know.  We are afraid we won't have enough so we cling tightly to what we do have, which starts a vicious cycle of clinging and hoarding, and in that cycle there will never be freedom for there will never be enough for us to feel at ease.  There is, rather, joy and abundance and freedom- in giving of "ourselves, our time and our possessions" (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, p. 107) 

I have yet to meet a happy person who isn't also a generous person or a generous person who isn't also a happy person. 

Click on the following link to view one man's joy of giving!

Brother Franklin's Joy of Giving



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