Giving Ourselves Away

An Advent Reflection

Almost 15 years after the author’s death, the Henri Nouwen Legacy Trust published a wonderful little book called The Spirituality of Fundraising, based on Nouwen’s writings about faith and possessions and love. It is a superb monograph, and so well worth reading. In it, Nouwen writes powerfully about generosity and about “giving ourselves away.” He reminds us about how we are to live and writes: “You are sent into this world to believe in yourself as God’s chosen one and then to help your brothers and sister know that they are beloved sons and daughters of God who belong together.

We are all reminded, over and over again, by scripture, by the example of others, and by the life of Jesus, that we are to live lives as generous people, never forgetting those in need, always reaching out to the “poor”—those who are poor in spirit, those who are in need, those who have little.

At this time of year, when we are so profoundly reminded of love and gift in the coming of Jesus and the incarnation of God into our midst, we are also reminded of the great privilege that is ours to reach out and help our brothers and sisters. The generosity of God’s people around us is simply overwhelming and humbling—what a gift it is to be a gift giver! What an enormous privilege to acknowledge the goodness that manifestly surrounds us and to be able to return thanks by “giving ourselves away.”

In this very different and strangely played out Advent and Christmas season, may we let that spirit of goodness and generosity and love inspire us to be the generous people that the Incarnate One calls us to be!

A blessed, warm, and generous season to all!

The Very Rev. Peter Wall
AFC Gift Consultant