This Fall the Stewardship Commission asked members of FPCY to speak about their motivation to be generous. We are happy to share Abby Cross’s words with you and hope that you will find inspiration in them. Abby was scheduled to share these during the service, but she was “COVID positive” that day.
Hi! I’m Abby Cross, and I wear a few hats at FPCY – I am on the Gathering Time team for Sunday School, I sing in the Choir, I lead 30 minutes of Contemplative Prayer every Wednesday (online and in person), I am in the Disciple discussion group, I’m co-chair of the Worship Design commission, and I am in my third year as a Session member.
Way back when, at my first Session meeting, I had no idea what to expect. I knew Session sometimes makes hard decisions that affect a lot of people, and I imagined that not everyone agrees all the time. With some anxiety I wondered if, like in the US Congress, the occasional disgruntled Session member would stand up, open the Bible, and start reading genealogies aloud in an attempt to filibuster during particularly contentious discussions…
In almost three years on Session, no one has filibustered, but what really struck right away in that first meeting was the commitment — as a group — by Session to be generous. One of the topics that night was how we take care of our staff, and we were looking carefully at the budget. I was pleasantly surprised at how everyone in the room was, without hesitation, dedicated to living out our faith through our resources. It was inspirational, and impressive that even behind closed doors our governing body returns to our professed principles to do the work we can, in any way we can, to build God’s kingdom here on earth.
It occurs to me that generosity must be contagious. Like the story of Stone Soup that Debbie Hager read at the CrossGen event, and then Connie recapped in her sermon last week, it’s so much easier to let go of fear and suspicion and mistrust, when we first observe others taking a chance and sharing. And then when we do it as a group, it emboldens us to take more chances to be generous as individuals outside of our church lives, and inspire others’ generosity. I know that’s what happened to me when I saw how Session members so readily and unanimously wanted to provide as best we can for those who serve on our staff. Yes, session members can in fact disagree on issues, but we give space to concerns, we listen to each other respectfully, we discern with patience, and we return to our faith to guide us…. which of course reminds us to be generous.
It takes courage to be generous – it can feel vulnerable and even dangerous. Why is that? Well, we as a species have a natural survival instinct that reflexively hangs on tightly to our resources, out of fear or mistrust that we won’t have enough for ourselves. Turns out it’s a wonderfully freeing and whole-hearted experience to let go of that fear, to trust God, to love fearlessly with our hearts and our actions. I find it so easy to be generous with my resources and my time when I am among others doing it so intentionally, bravely, and joyfully. So thank you Session for spreading that generosity bug to me with your collective spirit of fearless love! I hope I can spread a bit of it around myself.
We thank Abby for generously sharing her comments with us!
~Connie Knapp and Jessica Mayes, Stewardship Chairs