“Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all.” James 1:17
God is a generous God: just watch in creation, said Bishop Leonard E. Fairley in his Bible study on Friday morning. He called the conference to imagine the God of the Universe who spoke into nothingness and created something. God used holy imagination to create life. God spoke to Abraham and blessed him so that he might be a blessing. “Since God is generous,” asked Bishop Fairley, “how could we be any different?” That is the part of the generous God we should be like, he encouraged. Bishop Fairley challenged the conference to live into the mandate that “generosity is not an option for those of us who are water-washed and spirit-born.” Baptism is an act of God’s generosity: God’s gift without price. During Holy Communion, Christ invites ALL who love him. We have no option other than be to be generous. In 2 Corinthians 9:6, Paul reminds us whoever sows sparingly reaps sparingly and whoever sows generously reaps generously.
According to Robert Rodenman, there are three types of giving: grudge giving, duty giving, and thanks giving. Bishop Fairley stated that “We have no other choice” than to give from a thank-full heart. Generosity grows through everything we say and is the path to transforming the world.
Fairley recalled reading a devotional written by Sue Monk Kidd in which she wrote: “I decided to take up availability as a discipline, as a form of spiritual practice, like meditation, prayer, or Scripture reading.”
Fairley asked, “What if we practiced receiving each person with our whole heart? Mindful availability means making ourselves available to God. He held up Samuel, Isaiah, and Mary as examples of those who said, “Here I am Lord, your servant.”
He told the story of when he served at a three-point charge in Sanford immediately after graduating from seminary. One of his parishioners was a dedicated prayer warrior. When Bishop Fairley called upon him to offer a prayer, the parishioner made himself fully-available to God, kneeling down and offering a traditional African-American prayer:
“Here I am Lord,
head bowed and knee bent
like an empty vessel
before a full fountain
saying ‘fill me Lord
until I’m full.’”
Regardless of our station in life, we can be generous, Bishop Fairley noted. We can’t help but be generous for our resources cannot be exhausted. Keep going and do not grow weary.
“We are part of a kingdom with a God who has a generous heart and a holy imagination just ready to pour out blessings upon us,” said Bishop Fairley. “Open your hands to receive and give. Practice availability by just doing it. Let go of the stuff; too many lives hang in the balance. Fill me Lord ‘til I want no more!”