An urgent case for some ‘hilarious’ giving

Aug 30, 2017 by

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All of us are shocked by the terrible effects of Hurricane Harvey on Houston and surrounding areas. And this represents only a fraction of the ongoing suffering experienced by millions in northern Africa and the Middle East due to relentless wars and famines.

In the wake of a devastating first-century famine, Jewish missionary Paul urged Gentile believers in Corinth to take up a generous offering to aid believers in Judea, some 1000 miles away.

In the original Greek text Paul describes God as delighting in “cheerful” giving, and chooses the adjective “ilaron,” the root of our English word hilarious, to make his point. This doesn’t mean that Paul is implying the kind of levity that our word hilarity suggests in today’s English, but rather that believers are to give joyfully, generously and without hesitation.

Today we are faced with the reality of millions of refugees of flooding, war and famine whose lives are in similar peril. Unless our hearts are, as in the case of Dr. Suess’s Grinch, several sizes too small, we will respond to today’s extraordinary needs in extraordinary ways, if not with hilarity, then at least with unprecedented abandonment.

At this year’s Virginia Mennonite Relief Sale, we will have the opportunity to make generous cash, check and credit card contributions to its SOS (“Sharing Our Surplus”) Fund for refugee relief in addition to our liberally supporting My Coins Count, the auction and food and other sales.

There is no justifiable reason why a well-to-do community like ours shouldn’t be able to double or triple the annual amounts (over $340,000 last year) the sale raises for Mennonite Central Committee.

But we don’t have to wait for Sept. 29 or 30 to do this. We can make an online donation right now on the relief sale website, designating our gift for the SOS Fund, or directly to MCC.

Meanwhile, please share this word with others, and urge them to consider doing some truly “ilaron” giving to help make a positive difference.

Harvey Yoder is an ordained pastor and member of Family of Hope, a small Virginia Mennonite Conference house church congregation. He blogs at Harvspot, where this first appeared.

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