A Night of Generosity

A Night of Generosity

Article by Stacey Tafao
Not a single Trellis Night goes by that I fail to find myself encountering a wild hopefulness carried by those in our body.
In March, when we spent time exploring the manifold practice of prayer, I heard the hum of voices lifted on behalf of friends and family who need the presence of Christ in their lives. Had the waves of prayer that went up been an actual wave, Hawaii's best North Shore surfers would've shouted in delight as they rode it toward the shore. The atmosphere in the room was electric, and several of us stood in the back, alternating between lifting our prayers and listening wonderingly to the raised voices of those in the room.
The following month when we explored the practice of Scripture, we spoke of how spending time in the Word of God would inevitably lead to memorizing portions of it. Toward the end of the evening, we challenged those gathered to stand and, beneath lowered lights, share a verse they'd learned in one season or another. A passage that had sustained and nourished their life in Christ. As is always true, the Word of God ushered in the presence of God, and person after person stood and proclaimed words from the Word which had, at one moment or another, lodged themselves deep in their heart.
· "And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12:2)
· "Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord God Almighty." (Zechariah 4:6)
· "Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." (Psalms 46:10)
· "My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; More than the watchmen for the morning." (Psalm 130:6)
·     A voice cries: "In the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain." (Isaiah 40:3-4)
Scripture after Scripture filled the room, and those from Baptist backgrounds smiled as we heard the familiar "thees" and "thous" of the old King James. We all left encouraged and consoled, wrapped in the intimacy of the Word.
And so we came to Sunday night's Trellis Night on the practice of generosity.
At the end of a weekend containing a Taylor Swift concert and a King's coronation, arriving at the church on a Sunday evening to explore generosity felt like a hard sell. The topic of money often puts people on edge. And while you've been chirpily reassured that "you've not heard generosity spoken of like this!" you tuck your skepticism into your back pocket, certain you'll need it at some point.
Our evening began with worship as we sang of the goodness of God. We moved from new songs to old hymns and declared that "All I have needed Thy hand hath provided."
And then, we moved into exploring four aspects of generosity: time, knowledge, influence, and finances. Throughout the evening, our people gathered around tables and shared not how they'd given in these areas but how they'd received.
When Greg said in last week's sermon that "Generosity puts the glory of God on display," he spoke truly. We all reflect on our recent and not-so-recent memories of moments when someone invested time. When they listened to our hearts on a rainy and random Tuesday morning. When out of their knowledge, they taught us to change brake pads, knowing a bit of time and grease on our hands would save money and provide a sense of accomplishment. When their influence and insight helped us make a decision we wouldn't have made otherwise. All our recollections reminding us of His glory.
You see, it's all generosity. All of it lavish and all of it straight from the Father to us.

We tend to focus on the financial aspect of generosity because it's the currency we most idolize in our culture. But the richness of someone spending their time with us, coaching us, patiently watching and nurturing something being born in us, puts money in its proper place.

We didn't avoid talking about money Sunday night. In fact, we encouraged one another to dream about it. We asked: What has the Spirit drawn your attention to in recent days and weeks? What opportunities for giving have you been daydreaming about? What keeps coming to your mind when you've said, "If only…"
A man from my table shared with our group, "Every day when I leave the gym, I see a group of homeless people. I never carry cash, but I always notice them and want to help provide for them." I overheard a woman at a table next to mine share her heart for single mothers, and later, when we were asked to share the dreams we'd voiced at our tables with those in the bigger room, a young woman stood and said, "I work with an organization that serves those who've been affected by sex trafficking. If I had additional money, that's where it would go."
And on and on and on.
Three hundred stories rose to the heavens, and together we began to imagine a world made new as we dreamed about ways we'd invest deeply in the Kingdom.
Just before our night ended, we shared the news that a donor had come forward wanting to prompt generosity. We spoke of how they'd made a sum of money available to every person at our Trellis Night to invest in the dreams that had just been shared.
The news was met with quiet at first. And then… laughter. I'd, of course, known that the evening would end this way and had done my fair share of wondering how people would respond. Never had I expected laughter. A cheerfulness rippled across the room as people realized that they had the opportunity to bankroll what had, moments ago, been a dream.
As the evening concluded, I watched as person after person, moved by the Spirit, made their way across the room to the girl who'd tearfully shared about investing in women affected by sex trafficking. One person after another pressed their money into her hand, and as they did, her tears came along with a realization that He sees, He knows, and He provides.
A wild hopefulness. An unrestrained generosity. That's the DNA of Fellowship Church. We're a people who live the truth of "Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside."


Pastor of Spiritual Formation and Community
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