Editorial – March 2020

by Eddie Short

A Season Of Generosity

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it hard to believe that we’re already into the third month of 2020! This year seems to be flying by and Easter is already just around the corner. In fact, the 40 day season of Lent – when Christians around the world spend time reflecting and preparing for Easter – is already underway.

Lent is a time when Christians have traditionally given something up as an act of sacrifice to honour the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made for all of us when he submitted to death on the cross. However, over the last couple of years, in The Rivers Team we’ve instead been encouraged to take part in the 40 Acts Generosity Challenge.

Created by UK Christian charity, Stewardship, for the past ten years 40 Acts has challenged followers of Jesus with this question: what if Lent could be about more than just giving stuff up? What if it could be a time of radical generosity as well as spiritual discipline?

Taking part in 40 acts is a great opportunity to live out our Christian faith in a practical way that can have a positive impact on those around us. That’s not to say that you can’t still mark the season by sacrificially removing something from your life. But, if you’ve already committed to give something up during lent, why not replace it with a commitment to a daily act of generosity?

So how does it work?

It’s easy to take part in 40 Acts by signing up at www.40acts.org.uk. You’ll then receive an email each morning for the rest of Lent with a short bible reading and reflection, together with the daily generosity challenge. Each of these has an overall theme and then three different ways of acting on it, each requiring an increasing level of engagement. So you can decide how far you want to take each day’s challenge.

40 Acts can be done alone, but – for those who can – engaging with it as a couple or family is a great way to build a culture of generosity within your home. We’ll also be encouraging each other during 40 Acts as a church family, through The Rivers Team WhatsApp and Facebook groups, while our Sunday sermons throughout Lent will also tie into the same themes as the daily bible readings and reflections, drawing on the book of Proverbs.

Generosity is, without doubt, central to the Christian life. Jesus not only tells his followers to be generous (“freely you have received; freely give” – Matthew 10 v8), but we see him modelling generosity throughout the gospel accounts of His life and ministry. Because, of course, generosity is about a lot more than simply financial giving. As Jesus showed by inviting Zacchaeus to eat with him, we can be generous with our time by giving it to those who are lonely or ostracized. As Jesus demonstrated when he feed the 5,000, we can be generous with our hospitality. And as Jesus modelled through his ultimate act of sacrifice on the cross, we can be generous with our love and compassion.

So, as we go through the season of Lent, building towards the celebration of Easter, let’s be deliberate in our generosity. Let’s live out the gospel message of salvation found through faith in Jesus, one small daily act of kindness at a time!