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Could COVID-19 be brightening Christian generosity and kindness, making them more visible? The COVID-19 normal is impacting ministries, and the question ‘How is COVID-19 changing Christian generosity and volunteering?’ is a recurrent conversation in our diocese. My daily Bible reading is illuminating for me the beauty of Christian generosity, kindness and volunteering. Day-to-day acts of generosity, kindness and volunteering are becoming visible to me, in a new way. I’m beginning to perceive actions that I missed noticing before COVID-19.

Most mornings, I share breakfast with my dear heavenly father – that is, I read my Bible and pray to God about my day. Right now, I am reading Galatians. Galatians 5: 22-25 states: ‘The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.’ I consider that the fruit of the spirit expressed in a community is central to ministry. This passage is challenging me, today, to esteem all beautiful acts of Christian generosity and kindness.

At this moment, I am remembering wonderful people who have been future-focused during 2020 and now 2021 and who are faithfully caring for local church/ministry grounds/buildings during lockdown and times of social distancing. Your faithfulness is an inspiration. Thank you for generously gifting your time, so that we all continue to have beautiful places to assemble and worship collectively – and to express joy together.

Beautiful Christmas decorations at Holbrook Anglican Church. Photo by Monica Short. Used with permission

For example, in the second half of 2020, Mark and I were thrilled to visit St John’s Anglican Church, Young. We loved congregating with everyone in prayer and reflecting on the Bible. Sitting in the mowed church grounds after the service, gently sharing life was delightful. We also laughed as a small group of us attempted the simple version of the COVID-19 international Christian line dance challenge to the gospel song ‘Jerusalema’. (For those interested ‘Jerusalema’ started in South Africa in 2020 and is a prayer that has gone viral. See https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=PbnCb-E5alc for the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra & Jazzart Dance Theatre version and https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=6efHtpJK-Ns for the instructions on how to dance it.)

Laughing and joining in the fun of the Jerusalema Dance Challenge at Young Anglican Church. Notice the dance fashion accessories inspired by COVID-19, which are the crosses on the floor and people dancing in family groups. Photo by  Monica Short. Used with permission.

Christian generosity and kindness is an ancient and contemporary concept. We know that the Bible heroes James, Peter, John and Paul proactively remembered others such as the poor (see Galatians 1: 10). Further, in his 1906 book The country town: A study of rural evolution, Wilbert Anderson wrote about how church engagements with people are dependent upon a heavenly vision that incorporated generous and friendly theology, the vitality of the church, the activity of the church, generous deeds, tireless diligence and steadfast patience.

As I am praying, I think that these observations are still relevant. Loving acts of kindness, pastoral care and visitation encourage us and help us deal with the realities of returning to general society post lockdown. For example, the wonderful people who decorated Holbrook Anglican church for Christmas encouraged us by sharing Christmas cheer during the 2020 COVID-weary end of the year.

The wonderful congregation at Holbrook Anglican Church following the COVID distancing rules. Photo by Monica Short. Used with permission

Day-to-day acts of generosity and kindness, inspired by the love of Christ, are encouraging me to strive to do ‘good’. These acts highlight for me that Christian goodness and kindness are grounded in God’s grace and that they can extend beyond technology, policy, checklists or resource scarcity (Galatians 6: 9, 14 & 18).

Thank you to those who asked me this helpful question: ‘Is COVID-19 changing Christian generosity, kindness and volunteering?’ In response, I do not think that the foundations of Christian generosity, kindness and volunteering are changing. Each kind act continues to be beautiful, inspired by God’s love and precious. I believe Christian acts of generosity, kindness, and volunteering cheer us and are actively helping – at a minimum helping Mark and I – overcome the COVID-19 weariness. Thank you!

by Monica Short

 

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