By Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick
Generosity is an important part of a genuine Christian spirit. It’s also an important part of CME culture. What I’ve learned is that CMEs respond to emergencies with great generosity. I believe that generosity will show itself again as we respond to the needs of people who have suffered through Hurricane Dorian. I’m grateful to Bishop Sylvester Williams, Sr., and the members of the Committee on Emergency Relief, who have already sent out the “help” notice through CME Communications, asking all of our congregations to take offerings, write the checks to the Department of Finance, and send the checks to the offices of our presiding bishops.
Thinking about “sowing generously,” I went to Ecclesiastes 11 to see one of my favorite verses (v. 6). I was gripped by how differently in read in The Message Version. I was accustomed to the rhythm and the agricultural imagery of the King James Version, but The Message Bible had a different clarity that would not be refused. In the process of looking up verse 6, I went up to the verse 1 of Ecclesiastes 11 and saw these words in The Message translation:
Be generous. Invest in acts of charity.
Charity yields high returns.
Don’t hoard your goods; spread them around.
Be a blessing to others. This could be your last night.
When I hear the words of The Message, I remember that its translator, Eugene Peterson, translated as a pastor and biblical language scholar who was trying to make the Scriptures speak directly to 20th Century American people of no small means whom he was pastoring. That is, at least, the image I have from his writings in the book, The Pastor. But I raise that image to say that people such as myself who grew up hearing the Bible from its agrarian perspectives may find its expressions more relatable by contemporary minds who know little of rural life or agrarian life.
When I went to verse 6, I was accustomed to hearing and thinking its King James Version words: “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand; for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” That’s agrarian – that’s the “farm” mind. But The Message read:
Go to work in the morning.
and stick to it until evening without watching the clock.
You never know from moment to moment
how your work will turn out in the end.
A very different way of seeing and hearing God’s message, indeed! Yet, the message is the same: Don’t stop being generous! Don’t stop doing what you have committed to do! Do it without measuring what it will mean … because you cannot foresee what all of it will mean! You cannot see all its good effects that will continue way into the future!
So … as you consider aid for victims of this emergency – Hurricane Dorian – and for every emergency and for every investment you make in the lives of people … be generous, for your investments go farther than you can see!
+Lawrence L. Reddick III