Wednesday, November 24, 2010

With Our Gifts

Last Sunday we came to the last in the discipleship series on “Blessed to Be a Blessing”. Remember that we have been working our way through the membership vows of Methodists. We promise to uphold the church with our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness. I have tried to say in this series that these five things are marks of discipleship for us. We are blessed with the privilege and sent to bless others with these commitments.

Last Sunday we worked on upholding the church with our gifts. It was Consecration Sunday and we brought out pledges for 2011 to the altar as a church. It was, as always, a moving service as everyone moved forward toward the altar to leave their gift.

I made four points. First, I said that God owns everything. I pointed out that one scholar I know defines sin as “strutting around as if we owned the place.” God owns everything because he made everything and everybody. God is our benefactor, our creator. But, we forget that. Deuteronomy 8 says that Moses called all the children of Israel together as they were getting ready to enter the Promised Land and said: “when you live in fine houses, when you silver and gold are multiplies, when your livestock are multiplied, be careful and don’t forget God who gave you the power to get wealth in the first place…” God owns everything and gives everything away.

Second, giving is a pleasure. We love to give gifts to those we love. Nothing gives us more pleasure than to give a gift to someone. Why do people give to the church? A survey said that we give because giving is a part of worship, and we give because it is a pleasure to share. We also give, the survey says, because it makes us feel good.

Third, giving is a requirement for Christians. Since we have been given so much, we are expected to give. The Old Testament principle is the Tithe, which is 10% of our income. And, if we do we are promised that God will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing. The children of Israel brought what they had to the tent; they made a sacrifice in response to God’s choice of them as his people. A widow in the New Testament throws in two copper coins. She gave all she had. It’s not the amount. It’s the trust and faith that God will provide.

Fourth, Jesus is King. Consecration Sunday was also Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday of the Church’s year. Jesus is exalted. The text was from Luke 23. Jesus is crucified between two thieves. Over Jesus on the cross were the words: “The King of the Jews”. It was meant to mock Jesus. But, Luke wants us to see that Jesus is a different kind of king. He is King of Love.
Just recently, I was introduced to a wonderful hymn in our hymnal written by Fred Pratt Green, a British Methodist preacher who died in 2000. He wrote:

To mock your reign, O dearest Lord,
They made a crown of thorns.
Set you with taunts along that road
From which no one returns.
They did not know, as we do now,
That glorious is your crown.
That thorns would flower upon your brow
Your sorrows heal our own.

They did not know as we do now that glorious is your crown. Looking up to this king, we cannot help but give our best.

See you in Church!
Dave Nichols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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