WE live in a world where there's no such thing as a free lunch, or so we're told.

It's a cynical take, but I understand where it's coming from. It seems like “free” really means “with unskippable adverts”, or “with in-app purchases”, or “for the first month only”. There's always a catch.

Even birthday presents come with that unspoken obligation to offer something in return whenever the giver's own birthday rolls around. Or, flashing back to my childhood, compulsory Boxing Day telephone-calls to aunties, uncles and grandparents to trot out a monotone "Thank you for my Christmas present; I will enjoy using/eating/wearing it". As a child I was a regular, if unenthusiastic, member of my local Sunday school (the main sticking point, as I recall, being the apparent need to wear school shoes to a weekend activity).

We read Bible stories, made crafts, played games, and we sang. Without fail, we sang.

The lovely old lady on the piano only knew a handful of tunes, and most have stuck with me over the last 40 or so years.

Looking back, I'm struck by how many of those songs were about giving - one that particularly comes to mind launched into the chorus with, "Freely, freely, you have received; freely, freely give". What if free really meant free? No catches, no obligations, just pure, unbridled generosity.

Those words from my childhood hymn were originally spoken by Jesus to his disciples as he sent them out to spread the good news - just as the disciples had been unconditionally blessed by Jesus, so they were to give of themselves to others. Not because they had to, but because they could. I suspect that we often find ourselves in positions where we could give generously - giving our time, offering words of advice or encouragement, or stretching our money to help others.

Sometimes we choose not to, or just can't give more than we already have; and that's okay. But whatever our circumstances, may I encourage us all to give freely, without conditions or any expectation of a return.

Let's give what we can, simply because we can. And as it happens, this Saturday, July 13, the Congregational Church will be running a Fun Day on Newcombes Meadow from 11am until 3pm, and everything is free!

The barbecue, face-painting, inflatables, live music, everything - it's all free, and we'd love you to join us.

Dave Poulson

Associate Pastor

Crediton Congregational Church