Sermon for November 15, 2020 24th after Pentecost “A Precious Gift”
Remembering that the best things in life aren’t things, I am going to look at gifts from the perspective of two very different texts.
I chose the Judges text because it introduces us to Deborah. Deborah ranks among the most famous women of the Hebrew Bible, known to Christians as the Old Testament. Not only known for her wisdom, but Deborah was also known for her courage. She is the only woman of the Hebrew Bible who gained renown on her own merit, not because of her relationship to a man.
She was truly remarkable: a judge, a military strategist, a poet, and a prophet. Deborah was only one of four women designated as a prophet in the Hebrew Bible, and as such, she was said to transmit the word and the will of God. Although Deborah wasn’t a priestess who offered sacrifices, she did lead public worship services. Apart from this brief insight into her life we know little about her. Even the mention of her husband is suspect for Lappidoth can also mean torch bearer which became her emblem, but we just do not know for sure.
For women more than 3000 years ago and even today Deborah is a role model and a precious gift to all people.
The Gospel teaching places the stewards and the call to care in the same place. As we step back and view the complete story we see that receiving and giving are a linked aspect of our faith. Hiding and withholding are aspects of our ego and not part of God’s greater plan for the people or the world.
For the past weeks I have using the wording of Jesus that says: ‘you are named, called and chosen, you are mine’, to remind you that in these days especially you are noticed by God. For God has given each of you a gift, each gift is specially chosen for you and your abilities. I am thankful that every person has a differing gift.
The teaching is about how we use that gift. Do we keep it to our self, considering it too precious to be shared? Do we only bring it out on special occasions? Or do we nurture and use the gift with glorious abandon.
One of the gifts we all have in some measure is the gift of song. During these COVID-19 days in worship our voices are silenced. We do however have the gift of song from others. What has not been silenced is our gratitude. Whether applause for the hearing or hands waving for the hearing impaired, this gift of gratitude does not spread the virus.
From my vantage point at St. Mark’s is see and witness your care, compassion, generosity and spirit in full view for the benefit of others and in fulfilling our Christ give ministry. And I am humbled. As we move into the Advent and Christmas season we will be asked again to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to check in on the sick and challenged, to offer hospitality to the traveler and in doing this, proclaim the year of the Lord. I will not be surprised by the sharing of our gifts as we reach out to others. And I will clap and shout silently as generosity is witnessed.