This past week, Westside proved its true spirit. When one of our families—the family of Heather, Zach and Celestial Baumann—faced the sudden death of their father—you all stepped up in an incredible way to support this family. In less than 2 days, you raised nearly $2000 to cover the costs of cremation and other death expenses, which the family could not afford. Your generosity has touched me, and the family, in ways that are beyond measure.
The spirit of generosity makes a difference in more than material ways, too. First, when we touch hearts and lives in this way—be it through generous donations in times of need, or helping Family Promise guests have a good meal, or through simply being welcoming on Sunday mornings—we are giving something immeasurable to another person or family. We offer the gift of human contact, and recognition, and truly being valued. And such a gift has long-term effects that are impossible to gauge, but are certainly making the world a better place through uplifting lives. Second, and equally important, when we reach out with deep generosity we are giving ourselves an incredible gift: we let ourselves know that we can make a difference, that our actions do matter to a hurting world.
I’ve been thinking this week about the almost clichéd sentiment, “Think globally. Act locally.” This is what it really means: doing what you can, when you can, however you can, right in your own neighborhood and community. In a world filled with suffering and challenge, we can and do make a very real difference, right here. A rock dropped in a pond does not change everything about the pond, but it does make ripples that are seen and felt far being the point of entry. Your generous spirits are making a difference, and that difference has far-reaching consequences you may never be able to see.
So let’s hold to the spirit of this church: open minds, loving hearts, helping hands. We cannot do everything, but we can certainly do something. And when we do, it matters more than we may ever know. Thank you for being the rich and loving spirit that is this church.
With deep gratitude for all that you all do,