Sermon for March 17, 2019 Second of Lent “Nourishment”
“Surely I say to you, your house will be left desolate.” When you hear ‘blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’ you will discover that you have waited too long to seek the protection of Jesus and God.
To be nourished by the teaching of Jesus actually, at least in my mind, is to know the teaching and to live into them each day. The harsh words of Jesus that I opened with, are directed to those who know Jesus and yet choose to not pay attention.
Last week I looked briefly at saying yes and no, and your homework of when are you a blessing and when are you blessed. Today I would like to take a glimpse into how we go about using what we have been given. And yes, just to be clear at the outset, that is money and resources. Stewardship is really all about caring for, managing and using something that is not yours, but which you have been given for a time. It’s yours to look after and use on behalf of its rightful owner. A good steward always manages what they have been given as a response to the one who owns it and who have given it to them. And that includes our time and resources.
One day, two people from the same congregations were having coffee and talking about church stuff: you know, the regular chitter chatter. Finally, one says to the other, you know I’ve gone to worship for 30 years now and in that time I have heard like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me, I can’t remember a single one of them. So, I think I’m wasting my time and the ministers are wasting theirs by their giving sermons at all. Well, the other person thought for a moment and then replied, you know, I’ve been married for 30 years. In that time, my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. Bur for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this, they all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to worship for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!
According to Graham Standish, a Presbyterian minister in the USA, worship must provide ‘a tangible sense that Christ is in their midst, an encounter and experience of God’. Worship is not just a show we attend on those Sunday mornings when we have time. Worship is not a spectator sport. Worship is not something that can only occur in this building and this space. Worship does not even require the traditional trappings of minister, organist, and choir: hymnbook and bulletin. ‘In worship, as we sing songs, listen to the messages, read through scripture, and pray together, we can experience that precious love of God that is for each of us, and in that love discover a sense of belonging and perhaps even purpose for our own lives…worship takes us into the heart of God’.
Worship like stewardship, is about our response to God; who God is and what God does. As part of our worship today we heard the psalmist proclaim: ‘God is my light and my salvation, whom then shall I fear?’ and ‘I believe that I shall see God’s goodness in the land of the living.’ There is a response that is often used at Conference and especially youth forum: God is good…all the time, All the time…God is good. So whether we are in worship or the space between worship God is with us. All that happens is our response to God’s goodness
In our faith community, our community and world no one person can do everything. That is why we are called to share that which has been given to us. So that all may be benefit from the vast resources of the planet and it’s people. The budget committee is asking that you consider a cup of coffee a week more than you do now, that is about $2, at least at MacDonald’s for the not seniors coffee. That will maintain our budget. To take on the challenge of the deficit the increase will need to be much more. I do not nor does the budget committee tell you what to give. What you give is your response to a loving and generous God. Before you decide on your giving, stop to pray…discern if you are giving only from the excess or from your heart of generosity. Then respond as the council of God directs.
Together we are about the witness of Jesus in this place. With our prayer, our gifts of time, talent and resources, St. Mark’s will sustain its place as a relevant and spirit filled sanctuary of hope and hospitality.