By Nick Trelka
“Be fruitful and multiply.” When I was thinking about my take on “Gratitude to Generosity” during the 10 a.m. service, this well-known phrase from Genesis sprang into my mind. The ultimate blessing from God, life itself, came with a directive--you have a responsibility to generate goodness.
My grandparents were married in a tiny church built in 1933 out of sandstone from the local quarry. Comprised primarily of immigrants from Poland and Eastern Europe, this parish was grateful to be a part of a community of faith, strong work ethic, and freedom. Thirty years later, they built a second, larger church from those same quarries. Those parishioners exemplified gratitude and generosity. They had very little money, but they had time and talent to do and build things that outlasted them all. The teachers, family, and mentors I had throughout my young life gave the same to me. Time and Talent.
I am grateful and blessed my family and I are here at St. Barnabas. I try to carve out a little time every day to thank God that I am where I am. We are still generationally benefiting from our G1; those that built and grew the church. St. Barnabas is a fruitful parish because we are productive! We each make an impact far greater than the weekly service we enjoy together. Just like my childhood parishioners, I always knew that I wanted to give the same way of myself when the time came, when I had acquired enough talent or treasure (or both!) to give. I realize that turning my gratitude to generosity is not like fishes and loaves; it is not one miraculous multiplier.
Gratitude is the state of being blessed and receptive to showing appreciation. It is reflective, a potential energy that fills the individual with love, pride, and worth. To make that love kinetic, to produce and multiply that worth to others, we must decide to engage in generosity. We may do that anonymously, one-on-one, as a mentor or as a leader and multiply the power of our talents. We may engage financially and multiply the power of our time. But the change from gratitude to generosity is a conscious choice that takes a commitment over time.