The Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, is inspired by the generosity of others despite the hardships that surround us in his Easter Message:
‘O generous love’ sings one of my favourite hymns which we sing around Easter. But can we speak about generosity in our present times? Fuel costs and household bills are rising fast; there is so much need in our world, and so many claims on our giving that some people speak of ‘compassion fatigue; when households across our country are struggling to get by, is it fair to ask them to think about generosity?
Certainly times are hard for many in our society. Yet in fact at the same time we see extraordinary acts of generosity all the time. More than 150,000 people have registered to open up their homes to welcome Ukrainian refugees. The churches of our diocese, strapped for cash as they are, have raised thousands of pounds to support our companion diocese of Matlosane in South Africa. Everyday, often unnoticed, people with little to spare for themselves give out of sheer kindness to those whose needs are even greater than their own.
Even though we know all too well our own lack and neediness, as humans we do recognise the importance of giving to others, though we are often embarrassed to admit it. I believe that our instinct for generosity comes from the fact that we are made in the image of a God who is immeasurably generous in his love and care for us. At this Easter season, the cross of Jesus shows the lengths that God goes to in order to show us his love; and the resurrection of Jesus assures us that in the end love will always triumph over hate, kindness over cruelty, hope over fear, because it is more blessed to give than to take.
Sometimes the needs of our world are terribly clear and shocking in their intensity, as we in Ukraine. Sometimes, they are hidden in plain sight, as young families or older people having to choose between warmth and food as they face rising bills. Always there is the chance for us to respond from our heart, however limited our own resources - it is often the poor who give most generously. And when we do so, we are choosing to live the resurrection life to which Easter invites all people. To live in that way asks a lot of us, but it can also brings us deep satisfaction, so that we learn to pray:
‘Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labour and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will’.