This is the title of the BUS/BMS Assembly which starts tomorrow (and for which I am travelling today as I need to be at a session at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow morning... my days of unnecessary, ridiculously early starts are, I have decided, done). It is a great title, but is is true? Will generosity, let alone outrageous generosity be evidenced? Or will it just be a title that ends up bearing little resemblance to anything that takes place?
There are some interesting sessions and seminars planned, and some opportunities for the 'Outrgaeous Generosity' which we claim God offers (even if we put limits on that no matter what we may claim) to permeate our thinking.
Tomorrow morning - the Ministers Pensions Roadshow (why I have to be there early, why others are travelling form Didcot today). In an economic recession, what is Outrageous Generosity in relation to pensions for ministers, many (most) of whom have low relatively incomes in the first place? And what is Outrageous Generosity in terms of ethical investment?
A seminar from David Kerrigan entitled 'Integrity and Inclusivity, Mission and Sexual Ethics Today'. What does outrageous generosity mean in terms of inclusion? of integrity? towards those with whom we disagree?
Or David McMillan on 'Just Peacemaking' how can that demonstrate outrageous generosity in a violent world?
And so on, and so forth. Most of the main stage speakers have 'generous' in their titles - but how generous is generous? Is it outrageously so? Will we come away more or less generous of spirit? Will we get our ears tickled or our minds stirred? Will 'love cover over a multitude of sins' or will we become polarised?
Back at the end of the last century, two women, both from Scottish churches, each training for ministry in England, under the aegis of BUGB travelled to the Scottish Baptist Assembly, where they wept openly as, once more, the churches voted against the ordination of women. Roughly a decade later, slowly, but surely home-grown Scottish Baptist women ministers are being ordained, though this one English woman is still the only 'woman minister in sole pastoral charge of a Baptist church in Scotland'. Some people left the BUS because it wouldn't ordain women. Some people undoubtedly left once it did. Some people had to leave the BUS to follow their calling. Some people stayed put despite being denied their calling. I find myself wondering where, from all parties, generosity was exercised, and where it was withheld?
Outrageous generosity probably ought to carry with it something of the risky, risque, disturbing nature of things we find 'outrageous'. We aren't, I hope, simply saying 'God's uber generous', which we all believe anyway. Rather, I hope we're saying that God's generosity is shocking and bewildering and surprising-in-a-scary-way and might just lead us to re-think our cosy, self-righteous understandings.
So, I am hoping to be shaken up a bit, but in a way that shows me God's outrageous generosity is at work, rather than human self-righteous bombast (don't know if that word exists per se, but still!).
Praying for all speakers and seminar leaders, that they will be channels of God's outrageous, generous grace. And for delgates, that we may be genuinely open to the breeze or the hurricane of God's Spirit.