National Giving Day Resources

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Congregations have been encouraged by the General Assembly to participate in a church-wide National Giving Day at a time of their choosing between Sunday 5 September and Sunday 31 October 2021.

The following resources are intended to provide worship leaders with a range of material from which to choose for a National Giving Day service of reflection and thanksgiving. As well as sermon starters, points for discussion, prayers and hymns, you will find ideas for a symbolic act, intergenerational activities, and a short reflective video. If you would like to receive a PowerPoint presentation with blank slides to use in your worship, please contact Helen Silvis (hsilvis@churchofscotland.org.uk).

The National Giving Day Planning Group can be emailed via the stewardship team at stewardship@churchofscotland.org.uk. The Group would welcome hearing about your National Giving Day plans and subsequent experiences.

As we reflect on God's presence with us through these challenging times and offer gifts to express our love and thanks, may we also look forward with hope to all that God has in store for us and for our church.

Thank you to our contributors, in particular: Rev Dr Robin Hill, Rev Dr Alison Jack, Rev Jenny Adams, Rev Dr Grant Barclay, Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, Rev Catherine Beattie, Rev Iain D MacDonald, Rev Bruce Neil, Rev Muriel Pearson, Rev Barbara Ann Sweetin and members of the National Giving Day Planning Group.

Sermon ideas: Philippians 2: 1-18

(Rev Dr Robin Hill)

Brief overview

This passage from the letter to the Philippian church points us away from our selfish concerns to take in the glory of God's reign over all of heaven and earth (including us). Once we grasp our true place in the security of God's grace, surely our response should be one of humility and true gratitude, as we look to live radically and generously according to God's living Word in Christ.

A few thoughts on "the right kind of giving"

(Please note: permission has been received from Matt Laney to use his story included below.)

What a rich and varied text we have here, not least in terms of stewardship and framing a true mindset for giving.

Consider the themes encountered in Philippians 2:1-4: encouragement in Christ; sharing in the Spirit; having the same love; being in full accord and of one mind. And that helpful list takes us only to the end of verse 2!

Surely verse 5 offers us a great inroad to the message of Paul when he writes of the need for "the same mind" that was in Christ Jesus to be in his readers, as they look beyond themselves to recognise the interests of others.

Then in the famous "Christ Hymn" of verses 6-11 we find ourselves drawn to a key topic for this reading and for us in Stewardship season: humility. Leaving heaven, the Son takes human form, living a human life and dying an all-too-human death. In this way we see the true nature of God laid out before us. In the Incarnation the self-emptying one comes in abject love, devoid of status. An itinerant peasant, Jesus of Nazareth shuns earthly securities to operate from the edges where truth and danger co-exist. His way is a model one that is as spiritually powerful as it is materially unattractive.

So how are we to preach a message of hope here, considering the sometimes brutal realities of Jesus' ministry and mission? The way of Christ serves as our ever-present challenge, pointing up our cherished comforts and meeting head-on the misplaced assumptions of many over what it means to be successful, prosperous or comfortable. This, surely, is a challenge waiting to be brought out by the preacher with the urgency and drama of a flashing red light. (Sirens might also be used.)

Yes, we have failed to meet the standards of Christ, and we know it. Consider the words of Laurence Housman, as found in his wonderful hymn, Father Eternal, Ruler of Creation:

Lust of possession causes desolations;
meekness is honoured nowhere on the earth.

The notion of "possession" can be helpful here. Human society is geared up to the primacy of "ownership" in which I know beyond all doubt what is mine and mine alone. While others can keep their own stuff, they are duty bound to keep their hands off mine – and this an attitude backed up to the hilt by force of law. Oh, the lengths we go to in securing what we confidently take to be our own!

The American writer and pastor Matt Laney tells a story of taking his young son to a burger joint to buy him some chips (though he called them fries). As the boy munched away happily, Matt innocently reached over for a fry. "Dad!" came the response. "Those are mine!"

Stung by this rebuke, the father alerted the son to a number of factors which might just be relevant to settling this dispute: provision of car and of fuel; the ordering of food; the forking out of hard-earned cash. A key moment of decision had arrived for the youngster: "At that point he begrudgingly handed over a few measly little fries he didn't want anyway."

Whose fries are these? The son's? Or the father's? And was the boy's giving really any kind of giving at all?

A neat little tale there which serves to turn the listener right round in their tracks. What is expected of us as Christ followers? It has to be more than our unvalued leftovers, focusing instead on a new set of priorities. Matt's conclusion is instructive here as he tells us that faithful stewardship is, "about giving to the church and other places we care about, first, and structuring the rest of life around that. I'm still working on that."

He's not the only one: we all need to be "still working" on the right kind of giving. To return to Housman, perhaps our "lust of possession" needs to be matched – and more than matched – by a meekness, a humility, as we come to honour the One (as the Guild would say) "whose we are and whom we serve" (see Acts 27:23). Generosity is more than simply an attitude; it finds its meaning and purpose in action that flows from gratitude. If we truly appreciate sharing in God's eternal Love, does it not follow that our response should be one of a heart which is grateful for such an unspeakable gift, and of a mind open to our own giving as part of a lived-out faith?

Might we say that to be humble before God, contemplating both God's nature and our own, is nothing less than the beginning of a life-changing realisation, as we tentatively grasp our place in a universe too vast to be reckoned with? As tiny creatures of little or no ultimate significance, still we find ourselves enveloped by God's amazing grace. And so, in a strangely unpresbyterian action, we too might join with St Paul in kneeling at the name of Jesus. Then we will be ready to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord: Lord of life; Lord of the Church; Lord of all that we are and – yes! – Lord of all that we so foolishly have been calling "our own".

Questions to prompt further reflection for the preacher

  • As Christians, do we appreciate the humility of Jesus as laid out in the "Christ Hymn" of Philippians 2:6-11?
  • What are we to make of the "edgy" Christ who inhabits the fringes and shuns possession?
  • We have all experienced the forced generosity of the young boy's "few measly little fries he didn't want anyway". Have we ever tackled that attitude in ourselves? In other people?
  • A few people are very rich. Some people are comfortably well off. A great many people struggle to make ends meet, whether in Scotland or far round the world. Faced with these realities, how can a person arrive at a workable definition of "generosity" for them in their own particular setting?
  • In a changing Church of Scotland, how should our approach to personal and congregational Stewardship develop into the future?

Questions for individuals or group discussion

  • In what ways has God been generous to you?
  • Share a story of how you have responded to God's generosity, or your experience of faith and generosity in action together.
  • Does being generous come naturally? How might you deepen your generosity? How might your generosity become more joyful?
  • Has being generous ever meant you have had to make a tough choice? How did it feel?
  • What might be the effect on your congregation/community of practising Christ-like generosity?
  • Where do you notice generosity in everyday life and how does it affect our own generosity?

Sermon ideas: Luke 5:17-25

(Rev Dr Alison Jack)

Reflection

This is a very well-known, and significant, healing story which is found with some differences in all three of the Synoptic Gospels. In Matthew's version (9:1-8), the detail of the entrance through the roof is omitted, but other similarities suggest it is a version of the same story. It's in Luke's Gospel that the healed man ‘glorifies God' in response to his healing, both spiritual and physical, which makes it particularly relevant to today. In all three stories, though, the crowd of onlookers is also moved to wonder and praise.

In all of the versions, the paralysed man is strangely passive up until the moment when he responds to Jesus' command to take up his mat. It's those who bear him to Jesus whose faith is remarkable and remarked upon. Those who have carried him through the crowds, not letting the seemingly impossible task beat them, and hauled him up onto the flat roof of the house and then broken through it: they are so committed to making contact with the one they believe will change everything for him. There may be parallels to be drawn with the perseverance of those who have given all they can through the past months, in their jobs, in their families and neighbourhoods. The dogged determination of these nameless friends is quite something.

The poet Seamus Heaney wrote three poems relating to this Gospel story. In one, entitled ‘Miracle', he bears witness to the dedication of those friends, drawing a parallel with his own friends who had carried him to the ambulance after he had had a stroke. In this poem, their love is the ‘Miracle' of both his story and the Gospel story.

Near the end of his life, Heaney wrote another poem, ‘The Latecomers', from the perspective of Jesus himself in the Gospel story. The poem was written in response to an invitation from the poet and novelist John Deane to write about what Christ meant to him. Heaney described this invitation as a real ‘test of truth and art, but one worth making'. You can read about John Deane's recollection of this episode, and the whole poem, at The Book Haven Blog.

In the poem, we have an insight into what Jesus Himself might have been thinking and feeling, and His very human sense of exhaustion at the demands being made on Him. Perhaps there are echoes here of the times in the Gospels when Jesus is described as needing to go away alone to pray. In the poem, we see Jesus weigh up His options in response to the bearers' persistence, but it is the ‘imperatives of love' which end the poem, the decision to give the paralysed man the time he needs, and to respond to his whole person, body and soul.

These imperatives about giving others time and the gift of human connection turn the story back to us. They interrogate our response to the presence of God in our midst in worship, in the Christian community and in the world. The story is an encouragement to those who have played the part of the bearers; a word of reassurance about the healing power of Jesus to bring His loving concern into all situations of need; and a reminder about our response in action and in thanksgiving for the Christ who does not turn away from us when we approach. For what will we praise God when we return home after this time of worship?

Questions to prompt further reflection for the preacher

  • The episode is placed in a context of conflict and debate about who Jesus is and what He is able to do. There might be an opportunity here to consider, with Heaney, what Jesus means to us, and how we have come to this understanding. How might this be communicated and demonstrated to those who are hostile or uncertain, needing more evidence before committing themselves?
  • The story also probes issues of human need and divine response which have challenged readers through the centuries. We might want to consider what healing means in different contexts, physical, mental and spiritual. How might we be sensitive to pastoral concerns in our congregations, while preaching the ‘good news' within this passage?

Questions for individuals or group discussion

  • Think about your experiences of life during the pandemic. Share a story about how you helped others, or were helped by others, to persevere.
  • How can we continue to be thankful and respond with generosity when we are wearied by our circumstances?
  • The friends in the story carry the man, lift him to the roof and lower him through it to bring him to Jesus: in what different ways might we bring people to Jesus?
  • What might it look like for you and your congregation to show Christ's loving concern in situations of need?
  • Where do you notice generosity in everyday life and how does it affect our own generosity?

Prayers

Faithful God,
accept our humble thanks
for all You have blessed us with.
You have given us fullness of life.
You guide and inspire us.
You cover us with Your grace day after day.
You offer comfort in times of sorrow
and a peace that passes all understanding,
even in times of trial and uncertainty.

Forgive us Lord,
when we take these things for granted.
Remind us of the abundance You have poured out on us.
Help us listen for Your voice leading us,
prompting us to answer Your call,
encouraging us to give back,
to respond in generous humility
to Your grace, goodness and mercy.
Compel us to reflect something of Your love for us
as we give to enable Your work
in our communities, our nation and our world.
AMEN

Living God,
we need Your presence here on planet earth.
In these strange days throughout the world,
we call on Your Spirit to fill us with love.
Help us to wash the feet of our communities,
going the second mile, giving the cup of cold water.
Help our churches to be loving,
reaching out to all we meet.

Holy Spirit,
guide us in our finances,
to wisely use the resources You have given us,
to plant fruitful seeds for Your kingdom.
Where there is division between us
heal us with Your uniting presence.
Help our churches to be communities where we live in peace,
not the peace of differences hidden from sight,
but the peace of discussion and dialogue and mutual respect.

Creator God,
Shape us into a people of prayer,
whose first thought in the morning is praise,
whose watchword is kindness,
and whose last thought of the day is peace,
the deep peace of God.

Nationally and locally,
let Your Spirit rule,
so that our church may be joined in love and service.
We ask all of this, in the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ,
who through His lifelong journey of love
showed us God's kingdom come,
on earth as it is in heaven.
AMEN

Lord,
when we want to praise and thank You
we can use lots of big words
or we can simply tell You what we appreciate in our lives.
We celebrate Your people.
We thank You for the young and the not so young.
We thank You for the able and less able.
We thank You for people from other lands and cultures
who have broadened our life and horizons.
Lord, we celebrate the many talents and abilities
of our local, national and worldwide church.

Thank You for the people we have interacted with personally;
we bring them before You in our prayers;
and for the people unknown to us who have made an impact
in our church life and our life of faith.
Thank You for those who serve others in their daily lives.
On this National Giving Day,
we pray that our time, talents and money
can be used to further Your mission.

Help us to use our faith to sow the seeds of change and hope
wherever there is poverty, injustice, abuse, violence or racism.
Help us to embrace our gifts,
to be courageous and generous with them,
sharing and helping others through them.
AMEN

Generous God,
we confess that we are often much quicker
to express our grumbles than our gratitude,
to focus on the situations which inconvenience us
and limit our freedom,
than to notice those upon whom
our community and society depend.
So we would give thanks for all those
who at great cost to themselves
have done so much through the months of lockdown
to protect us, and care for us, and heal us.

We remember gratefully before You
those who have donned the face masks and shields
and just got on with the job
so that the very fabric of society could be supported,
and our basic needs met.
As we reflect on how much we owe to other people,
make us generous in our attitudes and actions,
through Jesus Christ
in whose life and death we see the fullness of Your love for us all,
and in whose name we pray.
AMEN

National Giving Day blessing with actions

(Very Rev Dr Susan Brown)

hand with curled fingers

(Curl fingers tight and bring thumb pads together, pointing to chest.)

For the life you have given us
and all the good things it contains,
we praise You, Creator God.

Open hands

(Keeping thumb pads together, uncurl fingers and wiggle them.)

For all those You have made,
sisters and brothers of every kind,
we praise You Creator God.

hand forming a heart shape

(Keeping thumb pads together, bring fingers of left and right hands together at the nails to make a heart shape)

For the way You hold us all in Your love,
Gifting us even Your own Son,
we praise You Creator God.

Palms up

(Spring fingers and thumbs free – so hands end up open, facing upwards)

Send us out to share that love with open hearts and hands.

hands raised

(Raise hands higher)

And praise be to You Loving, Creator God –
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit
now, this moment,
and forever more. AMEN

A Giving Day psalm

(Rev Jenny Adams)

Hear our cry, O God,
listen to our prayers.
The world is wounded
by coronavirus,
by isolation,
and by inequalities made worse by the pandemic.

There is so much injustice, God,
with people excluded because of skin colour, gender, and debt,
and harmed by violence, wealth and climate crisis
here, nationally and across Your world.

Creation herself groans,
crying out to You in brokenness.
And while we cry out,
the injustices and inequalities go on,
against Your will, O God,
though, we confess, not always against our own interests.

Yet in our losses and failures,
we know we can cry to You,
and that You listen to us and love us.
We know that You promise to be with us always,
and that You are beside us in all the mess.
We know we can pray for Your ways to come,
and that You invite us to join You in changing the world.

You are a faithful God,
walking with us through 2020 and 2021,
as You have walked with people for millennia.
So in our woundedness, we trust in You for healing.
In our unjust behaviours, we turn to You for transformation.
In our uncertainty, we seek Your presence to guide us to new life.

For all this we give thanks for You:
God of love, God with us, God of life,
thank You.

And may we hear Your call, O God,
to seek peace and justice,
to love tenderly and fairly,
and to listen and learn humbly
for ourselves and our communities,
for all people and Your whole creation.

May we hear Your call, O God,
and respond with all that we have and all that we are,
being transformed
and so helping change the world.
AMEN

Write your own psalm

The Psalms allow expression of every emotion, honestly and openly, turned towards God even in feelings of abandonment and lament. They often move from those expressions to deeper trust in and thanks to God.

Provide paper and pencils to the congregation (give prior notice to those participating online ) to allow people to write a psalm. Offer prompts to aid their thinking, such as:

  • Looking back over the past 18 months, what do I want to raise with God?
  • What do I need God to do today, this week and into the coming months?
  • What is my image of God as I write this psalm?
  • How has God responded in the past?

The congregation could then shape a psalm together reflecting on and sharing their experiences and hopes, and why they are turning to God. How might the congregation express the psalm in different ways?

This time may be concluded by expressing the new psalm together.

Ideas for a symbolic act

You may use or adapt these ideas for a symbolic act to help participants acknowledge and recognise God's presence with us during the challenges of the last 18 months and to encourage thanksgiving in every circumstance and hopefulness for the future.

Weather symbols:

Show a few examples of weather symbols e.g. clouds, sunshine, storms, fog, for people to copy if they wish – on a slide, on a service sheet or in your recording.

Where people are, invite them to draw three symbols:

Symbol 1 – to represent life for them in the past year.

Symbol 2 – to represent life for them at the present time.

Symbol 3 – to represent looking forward to the coming year.

Alongside each symbol, invite them to write or draw how God has been with them, is with them now and will be with them in the future.

Give space for people to express prayers of thanks, grief, fears and hopes, based on their personal reflections.

The symbols may then be added to three larger sheets or tables to represent the shared experience of the church family of the past year, of now and for the future.

Give space again for people to express prayers of thanks, grief, fears and hopes, based on their personal reflections.

A similar activity could be done using symbols of the four seasons – spring flowers, sun, autumn leaves, snowflakes. Shaped post-it notes or pre-printed paper could be used as an alternative to drawing for people to collect and stick on larger sheets/tables.

Create a labyrinth

How to create a labyrinth

The labyrinth is a path representing a prayerful route to God. Unlike a maze, it has no dead ends. If you follow the path, you will always end up at the centre or entrance of the labyrinth.

Illustrated instructions on making a simple 3- circuit or 7-circuit labyrinth are available online.

If you are meeting in a place with sufficient space, either indoors or outdo1ors, lay out a labyrinth in the space available. This could be made available to visitors over a period of days or weeks. Provide guidance on how to interact with the labyrinth.

In the centre of the labyrinth, have a basket/cairn/collection box/piggy bank. Near the entrance, have stones, shells or coins available for participants to pick up. Alternatively, people may want to bring their gift offerings as they journey through the labyrinth.

Invite people to walk the labyrinth, carrying a stone, shell or coin into the centre. On that inward walk, invite reflection on the past 18 months, on how life has been, on how God has been evident during this time.

At the centre of the labyrinth, people can place the small items they have been carrying in a basket (or similar), or on a cairn. This can symbolise a thanksgiving offering or a laying down of burdens.

As people begin the walk outwards, they can be encouraged to invite God to walk with them into the coming months, to listen for God's invitation to love and serve, and to express their hopes (or fears) for the future.

If the giving day is not being held in person, share an image of a labyrinth on screen or in a newsletter and encourage people to trace their route with their fingers or to imagine the path whilst contemplating on the past 18 months, on how life has been, on how God has been present or has seemed absent.

Other types of gatherings

Online

Meeting digitally has become an important way of meeting as church and expressing God's love to others throughout the pandemic.

Using an online platform of your choice, encourage people to share prayers, scripture verses, thoughts and questions for God. You may wish to offer a weekly Psalm to demonstrate the full range of emotions, e.g. grief, lament, thanksgiving and hope.

Encourage people to share their experiences throughout the pandemic: good and bad. You may also wish to provide space for names of departed loved-ones to be shared.

The comments feed on platforms such a Facebook, YouTube or Twitter could be used to gather these written contributions. The use of sites such as SurveyMonkey would provide greater privacy.

These contributions can be brought together in a communal prayer or Psalm shared online.

Outdoors

If meeting in an outdoor space, there are various activities that can be used to symbolise and enable giving to God.

The planting of trees or seeds demonstrates care for the creation now and into the future and is also symbolic of a new beginning and hope for the future.

Communal tasks such as collecting litter or tidying spaces can be a reminder of how the Earth's resources are currently used, which in turn can lead onto reflections on giving. Children and young people can be encouraged to get involved in these activities and encouraged to think about different ways to be good stewards.

Walks and short pilgrimages can be guided in person or through printed leaflets or apps, with meaningful locations or stopping places bringing attention to issues, challenges, hopes and fears that are relevant to the community, whether locally or globally. These stopping points may relate to the giving day and the impact of our giving. Other aspects of stewardship or thanksgiving could also be explored.

An intergenerational activity leading up to the National Giving Day

(Rev Dr Grant Barclay)

Introduction

As circumstances allow, this idea might enable people to reflect on the church building in which they sit, perhaps now slightly less familiar given the past year and a half. It is adaptable for use whatever the Covid regulations are at the time. Individuals could be led through the building as part of a guided tour or virtually by means of a video or slides. Alternatively, members of a congregation could do this simultaneously as part of an intergenerational worship service.

Exercise

Take some time to pay attention to your church building. Have a good and detailed look around, and try to notice things you haven't seen before. Consider the joints in the pews, or the way the flooring is laid, the wood around the chancel, or the careful crafting of stained glass.

Ask God to open your imagination. Think about those who did this work, or who paid for it to be done. What did they anticipate in those early days? Could they have imagined the comfort and challenge, support and service which their giving enabled? How has their vision and generosity touched your life and the lives of those in your community?

You will, most likely, have given a great deal to the place in which you sit. Your presence enriches it, your contribution through the Guild or choir, with young people or in the Kirk Session, all matters. Yet it's easy to think only about one meeting or a single season. There's a sense of perspective which comes in sitting quietly, remembering back over decades or centuries, to the collective work of the people of God through the generations, right where you are sitting.

As you remember, look around – but go beyond the immediate things you see. For the Church is more than bricks and stone and is really about shared belief and service. What you have given has contributed to the building up of both place and people. You are part of this.

In what ways do you sense God calling you to continue to give? What might you actually do week by week, or at certain points in the year, to contribute to this congregation's life? Do you notice anything in particular?

As you let God prompt you, are there other areas where you discern you could offer support, or insight, or help? Your contribution now might allow someone sitting where you are in fifty years' time to be grateful for all the faith exercised right here through the generations.

Next step

Simply remembering and being grateful is good, but it is not sufficient. All you see around you is the result of effort, of planning and discussing, of giving and doing, of trusting and working.

Before you leave today, think of one or two things you could actually do to contribute to the ongoing life of this place of faith. That might be about the fabric: donating to its upkeep, or offering to take part in cleaning or maintaining. Or it might be about its faith: offering to read in services, or lead in worship. It might be about offering yourself in service, perhaps with those who are young, or older, or far from here, in a new, creative venture. It might even be in a renewed commitment to attending worship, or to the organisation of this congregation, in caring for members or in playing your part in making good decisions for the days to come.

Finally…

Small contributions can be significant. Everything we do counts with God. This is about doing your part in keeping this place alive.

‘Throw it all in' challenge

It is in giving that we receive

What you will need:

  • A selection of bowls, jars or cups
  • 1p coins (approximately 15 for each participant)
  • Masking tape

Set up the jars, cups and bowls on the floor, placing some close to each other and some further apart. Mark several straight lines on the floor with the masking tape in front of the jars, putting the first line right in front, the next line a few feet back, the next line further back, etc. Do this until the final line is all the way across the room from the jars.

Give each participant five pennies. Explain that the goal is to get the pennies into the jars/bowls/cups. For each penny they land in a jar, they will receive two more pennies. Have the participants line up behind the first line (nearest the jars) and let everyone throw one of their pennies. Reward the participants who get a penny into a jar with two more pennies.

Once everyone has taken a turn, have them move to the next line and repeat the process. Continue with each of the taped lines, with the challenge getting harder as the distance increases. Participants are ‘out' when they run out of pennies. Remaining participants compete until there is just one person left. The last participant wins.

After the game, discuss the following questions:

  • Was that game harder than you thought it was going to be?
  • Do you think you would have had a better chance of winning if you had stayed at the first line the whole time?
  • Did it make it harder since the only way to win was to give away the pennies you already had?

Reflect on how God gives us many resources – talents, time, the earth, money, our intelligence – and we have the choice of what to do with those things. We can have an attitude that says ‘it's all about me', and we can choose to hold tightly to everything we have, making sure we never give anything away. Or, we can choose to have a giving attitude – being open hearted and open handed.

Luke 6:38 says: "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Does that remind you of anything? What do you do when a bag is full, but you're trying to fit more into it? You press the contents down. You shove the stuff in, shake it around, and try to make room for more. When we give, God gives back so much that it has to be pressed down, shaken together, and it still runs over, bursting out; it cannot be contained.

But first, we have to give. In the game we played, you could have held tightly onto all of your pennies and never tried to get them into a cup. But you wouldn't have received anything back. This Bible verse is not really talking about money; it's talking about everything. ‘Give, and it will be given to you'. ‘For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you'.

God has already blessed you. Think about it! You can choose to hold onto those things and keep them for yourself or you can choose to have a giving heart and, in turn, blessings will be given back to you. We give because we want to share God's love and generosity with each other.

Having a giving heart blesses others and it blesses you. That's a win-win situation.

National Giving Day videos

A video message by the Moderator is available below:

A reflective video for use in worship is also available:

If you would like an offline version of this video, please email stewardship@churchofscotland.org.uk.

Short reflections to aid personal devotions

Below are two reflections to be used in personal devotion.

Reflection 1 – Community

(Rev Iain MacDonald)

Matthew 25:35-40 (NIV)

I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me… whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

The merits of community are sometimes defined by busyness and activity levels. A ‘good' community is seen as one with plenty leisure and social facilities, clubs, organisations and events. This is commendable but the real gauge of community should be generosity. This includes inward generosity – acceptance, welcome and support for those with greater needs – but must also include outward generosity.

The truly defining measurement of community – and a congregation is a community within a community – lies less with how much it looks after itself as how much it reaches out beyond itself.

That's why it's essential to engage with need, justice and development beyond our own streets, towns or shores to feed, clothe and welcome those whom Jesus so personally identifies Himself with. It's not optional. It's a Biblical imperative.

Reflection 2 – Gospel for the Rich

(Rev Muriel Pearson)

Matthew 19:16-22 (NIV)

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, ‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?' ‘Why do you ask me about what is good?' Jesus replied. ‘There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.' ‘Which ones?' he enquired. Jesus replied, ‘"You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honour your father and mother," and "love your neighbour as yourself."' ‘All these I have kept,' the young man said. ‘What do I still lack?' Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.' When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

It was an interview
for selection for training for ministry.

The man tapped a note
about my previous answer
into the laptop perched on his knee.
I had explained my interest in
Liberation Theology
and God's preferential option for the poor.
‘Very interesting,' he said, still typing.
‘And what are your thoughts about the Gospel
for the rich?'

The silence stretched.
Despite knowing myself to be one of the rich
I hadn't formulated a response.

I can't remember what I said then,
but I have a better worked out answer now.

Having wealth makes us anxious.
The security gets tighter and
the walls higher.
But the good news is that every good gift comes from God
and is only held by us in trust,
so unlike the Gospel's foolish farmer we don't need to build
bigger barns to store it:
we need to discern how God wants us to use it.

And then there's the myth of scarcity
upon which our whole economic system is based.
This skews the whole society
as the rich get richer and the poor, poorer.
Instead, we are invited to live out of the truth of abundance:
that there is plenty for all, and some left over,
if we give thanks and share.

But there is a hard note to this Gospel too.
Despite looking on him with love
Jesus lets the rich young man turn away;
for no-one can serve two masters.
This young man had everything,
had done everything to be good enough,
except trust God.
‘Give away all you have to the poor and come follow me,' said Jesus.
The man's face fell
and he went away sad, ‘for he was very rich'.

Abundance, gifted by God, made for sharing.
Perhaps the gospel for the rich and for the poor
are the same, after all.

Musical suggestions

Our online music resource is on the Church of Scotland website; you can listen to samples of every song in the Church Hymnary 4th edition (CH4) and download a selection of recordings for use in worship. You will also find playlists for this week and liturgical seasons and themes on the Weekly Worship and Inspire Me tabs.

  • CH4 153 – "Great is thy faithfulness" – This hymn contains many pertinent and inspirational lines, not least ‘strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow'. The underpinning Scripture of Lamentations 3:22-23 bears highlighting too.
  • CH4 182 – "Now thank we all our God" – This hymn links with the NGD video message by the Moderator who shares the story of the hymn's writer, Martin Rinkhart. Even in the midst of adversity, we acknowledge God's presence, express grateful thanks and demonstrate the generosity that has been shown to us.
  • CH4 261 – "Father eternal, ruler of creation" – Written in 1919, this hymn faces squarely the devastation of war across all nations. As we emerge from months of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, the call of intercession and hope in this hymn are also relevant today.
  • CH4 458 – "At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow" – This familiar uplifting hymn speaks of God's enduring might, power and victory through all situations.
  • CH4 350­ – "When Jesus the healer passed through Galilee" – This hymn links to the featured passage of the paralysed man (Luke 5:17-25). The song reminds us of the healing hands of Jesus and calls for that same healing power to be with us in our own circumstances today.
  • CH4 351­ – "Jesus' hands were kind hands" – This family friendly hymn celebrates the loving, caring nature of Jesus and asks that those qualities be evident in us too.
  • CH4 356 – "Meekness and majesty" – This hymn revels in the wonders and mystery of God, fully divine and perfect, and yet fully engaged in the complications and messiness of our lives. This is a timely reminder that God understands our suffering through the life and suffering of Jesus Christ.
  • CH4 374 – "From heaven you came, helpless babe" – This hymn points to the servant nature of Christ and provides a fresh opportunity for worshippers to commit to living lives which are a daily offering of worship.
  • CH4 378­ – "Praise to the Holiest in the height" – This hymn places God's incarnation above every other divine gift. God's willingness to understand our existence is generous love that deserves only our praise.
  • CH4 394­ – "He came to earth, not to be served" – This hymn of praise encourages worshippers to recognise the many blessings God has provided and to have a steadfast hope for the future: "not looking back, but giving praise for all my Lord has done for this believer".
  • CH4 396­ – "And can it be, that I should gain" – This rousing hymn speaks of the amazing, infinite, undeserved love of God.
  • CH4 501 – "Take this moment, sign and space" – This honest, heartfelt hymn offers to God all we can and cannot control. In these times of uncertainty and worry, expressing our deepest thoughts to God brings peace and comfort.
  • CH4 502 – "Take my life and let it be" – This hymn commits all that we are and have to God – promoting a whole of life approach to Christian service and worship.
  • CH4 503 – "I will offer up my life in spirit and truth" – This hymn recognises that offering our lives fully to God is the least we can do for all that God has done for us.
  • CH4 506 – "All I once held dear" – Knowing Jesus is more valuable than any earthly treasure. This hymn reflects on the changed values we hold dear when Jesus is at the centre of our lives.
  • CH4 531 – "My Jesus, my Saviour" (YouTube) – This powerful song of worship and praise acknowledges the comfort, shelter, refuge and strength that God provides.
  • CH4 540 – "I heard the voice of Jesus say" – Many may feel worn out, sad and possibly hopeless in light of the pandemic and its impact. This hymn speaks into those feelings, offering – through familiar words from Scripture – the reassurance that Jesus brings rest, renewal, light and hope.
  • CH4 543 – "Longing for light, we wait in darkness" – Similarly, this song touches on themes of despair, unease and longing, but focuses our eyes on others: the hungry, the homeless, the thirsty. It challenges worshippers to go out into the dark world with Christ's illuminating light.
  • CH4 716 – "Come and find the quiet centre" – This hymn speaks to the importance of time with God, helping to refocus our hearts and minds whatever is happening around us.
  • CH4 718­ – "We cannot measure how you heal" – This hymn reminds us of the mysterious and glorious ways of God. We give thanks that through God's love and grace, our needs can be met.
  • Complete Mission Praise 712 – "Turn your eyes upon Jesus" – This song reminds us to remain focussed on God when the worries of our earthly life are getting too much. A number of contemporary versions of the song on video can be found online.
  • Come & Praise 59 – "The Best Gift" (YouTube) – This family friendly song encourages everyone to offer their best to God.
  • "Wonderful Grace" (YouTube) – This beautiful song is a heartfelt reminder that God's love is not earned. Our giving is simply a response to that love and grace.
  • "Yet not I but through Christ in me" (YouTube) – This song of affirmation puts Christ at the centre of all that we are, all that we have and all that we can be.
  • "Sovereign over us" (YouTube) – The words reinforce that it is through our faith that we understand that God has a plan for us and, even when all else seems to be going wrong, God is faithful. "Even in the valley you are faithful; you are working for our good and for your glory."
  • "The UK Blessing" (YouTube) – This song calls for God's blessing to fill the hearts and lives of our congregations and communities.
  • "For all that you have done" (YouTube) – This song, set to the familiar tune of Auld Lang Syne, recognises God's goodness and generosity in the good times and the bad and raises a song of thanksgiving to Heaven. "For that you have done for us, for every battle won, we'll raise a song to bless your heart, for all that you have done."
  • Here is a list of additional contemporary songs on a stewardship theme

Social media

Graphics to use on Facebook to promote National Giving Day are available for download below.

When posting about your Giving Day plans on social media, please tag @churchscotland and use the hashtags #GivingDay and #thisischurch.

You are free to download, project, print and circulate multiple copies of any of this material for use in worship services, bible studies, parish magazines, etc., but reproduction for commercial purposes is not permitted.

Please note that the views expressed in these materials are those of the individual writer and not necessarily the official view of the Church of Scotland, which can be laid down only by the General Assembly.