“And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Welcome to 2021: The Year of Generosity. Our focus this year will be on Funding the Mission. God has a mission, and God’s mission has a church, and God’s church is full of generous people who have abundant gifts and resources; gifts and resources that we are called to share. As St. Paul reminds us, we are blessed with an abundance, so that we may share abundantly (2 Corinthians 9:8).

God is generous and generosity is at the heart of loving God, loving the neighbor, and loving the world. By practicing generosity, we are given the opportunity to partner with God to renew all things. This partnership is at the heart of the Northwestern Ohio Synod’s mission: Sent by the Crucified and Risen Jesus to Make Disciples, Equip Leaders, Strengthen Parishes, and Nurture New Communities for the Renewal of Northwestern Ohio and the World.

In 2 Corinthians, St. Paul encourages the spiritual practice of generosity, and challenges the earliest followers of Jesus, to think not only of themselves, but to consider the needs of the wider community. The Jerusalem Collection is one example of St. Paul’s call to generosity. The Jerusalem Collection was a generous financial gift given by Paul’s newly formed churches in Galatia, Philippi, and Corinth, to meet the needs of those experiencing hardship and poverty in Jerusalem. In addition to helping those in need, the Jerusalem Collection also served to break down long established barriers and bring unity to the Church of Jesus Christ. The spiritual practice of generosity is one of the gifts God uses to renew both the church and the world.

We encourage you and your parish to grow in your spiritual practice of generosity, by leaning deeply into God’s Word. Please click on the link below to access a 6-session Bible study on the Jerusalem Collection. We have produced both a Leader’s Guide and a Student’s Guide. This Bible study is a great resource to use through the forty days of Lent or during the fifty-day Season of Easter. But as I’ve shared before, be careful. Be very, very careful, because God’s Word has the power to transform people and communities from who we are into the people and communities that God longs for us to be.

Let us pray, O God, in your love you have given the people of this land gifts of abundance beyond what our forebears knew or could imagine. Mercifully grant that we may not be so occupied with material things that we forget spiritual gifts, and thus, even though we have gained the whole world, lose our souls, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen. (Evangelical Lutheran Worship pg. 80)