What can we bring? - Clare Fussell

    Encouraging generosity
    22 February 2018

    Clare Fussell, Giving and Resources Adviser, asks how much do we consider what we are bringing to God for His mission and work?

    In many cultures it’s a custom to bring a gift when visiting someone’s home. And sometimes, here in Britain at least, this can be fraught with a sense of awkwardness. Particularly where we don’t know the host well we can be anxious about bringing the wrong gift, and how that might reflect on us. We’re keen not to risk insulting the host by bringing something that makes us look cheap, perhaps like ‘own brand’ supermarket biscuits or a bargain-bin bottle of plonk!

    If this sounds familiar, then just imagine the anxiety felt by Saul in 1 Samuel 9 as he prepares to visit Samuel. When his servant suggested they go to see Samuel, a prophet who was known to be visiting the town, Saul replies nervously: “If we go, what can we give the man? The food in our sacks is gone. We have no gift to take to the man of God. What do we have?” Taking gifts to a host was clearly the done thing in Biblical times too. In the end, Saul and his servant decided on taking a half shekel, all they had, yet this turned out to be a mere token compared to the blessings and honour bestowed on him by Samuel: he was seated at the head of the feast, invited to stay at his home, and anointed as ruler over Israel!

    Today, when we visit God’s house, do we ask like Saul ‘what can we bring?’, or do we focus more on what we can take away – a warm glow from the sense of community, perhaps; the uplifting music; the thought-provoking talk; the good cup of coffee?

    Guildford Cathedral was in the news recently because there were rumours it would have to close. They faced huge building costs, yet the average gift from those entering the cathedral to pray was just 35p. We worry about insulting friends when we visit their homes with a cheap gift, but are we worried about insulting God by the little that we might give when we visit His house?

    As we pray and fast through Lent, let us reflect on all that we have to offer to God and pray that He might nurture our spirit of generosity to further bless the work of our churches.