Giving brings happiness at every stage of its expression. We experience joy in forming the intention to be generous, we experience joy in the actual act of giving something, and we experience joy in remembering the fact that we have given. — Buddha
This session introduces generosity as an important spiritual discipline and religious act that is a central component of justice and goodness. It is based on the notion that generosity is a way of life which reaps benefit for both giver and receiver. The quote from the Buddha illustrates that this value can be found in many world religions. In Hinduism positive acts accrue good karma. In Islam it is believed that alms given in Allah's name will be rewarded ten to one hundredfold, while the Christian Bible states that alms given secretly will be rewarded by God (Matthew 6:2-4). In Judaism, to give charity is considered a blessing that shows obedience to God. Some Wiccans believe that what you do in the world, whether for good or for ill, will return to you three-fold.
As Unitarian Universalists we engage in generosity and other acts of goodness not for a promise in a future life, but in order to create and reap the rewards of a better world for ourselves and others in the here and now.
This session assumes that generosity stems from an attitude of gratitude and a feeling of abundance, both of which grow with giving. It reflects the conviction that a deepening in compassion that leads to action on behalf of others is an integral part of spiritual maturation.
In the United States, children are immersed in a culture which promotes accumulation and materialism. This session counteracts that lifestyle with an opportunity to experience the joy of giving. Generosity is added to the moral compass.
Please note that the central activity includes visiting with a group of younger children in your religious education program. Leaders will need to work with the younger children's program leader(s) to arrange this visit in advance.
This session will:
- Help participants understand the connection between generosity and the second Unitarian Universalist Principle: justice, equity, and compassion in human relations
- Develop participants' empathy as they are encouraged to think about the needs and wishes of other people
- Communicate that generosity is an important part of justice and goodness
- Give participants opportunities to experience themselves as capable of creating and giving a gift
- Give participants practice in being generous with their time, talents, and treasure
- Encourage participants to experience themselves as helpers and mentors to younger children in your congregation.
- Learn an example of generosity from a true story about an Islamic man who gave away caravans of food to hungry villagers during a drought
- Consider the benefits of generosity from the points of view of both the giver and the receiver
- Explore the gifts of time, talent, and mentorship they can offer other children by sharing their home-made modeling dough with a younger group.