In Whitby a few years ago I was moved to tears as amidst the crowd enjoying some much awaited sunshine down near the harbour in the distance I saw a young man from one of the fish and chip shops approach a homeless person huddled inside a sleeping bag, kneel down and hand him a plate of fish and chips and a hot drink. A simple act of kindness and service towards another human being. Yet so many had passed him by.
God has given us so much. Everything we have is a gift from Gods grace. He made us and all the world. He has given us our homes, families, work, health and all the good things we enjoy. He also gave us the great treasure of Jesus. Jesus who gave his life for us so that our sins can be forgiven. He loves us without limit and unconditionally. God calls all his people to be like him and to share in this gift of giving.
To be a disciple of Jesus, a Christian, means to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength. It means to offer our whole selves back to God in loving service.
A wise soul said at a meeting I attended that ‘People invest in what they have a heart for’. And one of the key issues we are being asked to think and pray about is how should we give as disciples of Jesus Christ. The Gift of giving and sharing is central to the Christian faith. Part of the offering of our whole lives is to offer our time in God’s service, our different talents in God’s service and our money our treasure in Gods service.
It is only through our giving in all these aspects with joy and thankful, grateful hearts that the work of the local church across the diocese is sustained and can grow and be a voice for those who have no voice; a place of hope where there is none.
St Mary’s alongside St Winifred’s Stainton in our United Benefice is a visible presence of God within His communities. If people invest in what they have a heart for, our challenge is to ask ourselves as individuals what could I be doing that I’m not doing already to help sustain and grow the church here. And that question may be a hard one- but it has to be asked.
As Jesus disciples, we are called along with the whole of the Diocese of Sheffield ‘to grow a sustainable network of Christ-like, lively and diverse Christian communities in every place which are effective in making disciples and in seeking to transform our society and Gods world.’
Through Jesus death and resurrection we are the Easter people. The disciples, having hid initially from fear of the authorities after Jesus death, through faith, trust and obedience to follow the Lord, overcame huge challenges and dangers. As a Diocese and as a Parish in these uncertain times, the future can be often scary and the call to change or do things differently even more so, but as brothers and sisters in Christ let us all invest with joy and give gladly and generously to the best of our abilities to follow our Lord’s command in service to our God and the communities we serve.
May God bless you all in abundance this Easter tide.