Notes toward a sermon -
Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (collect)
Thessalonians – oldest letter – writing of the NT. Nurse – wet nurse. When he first came to Thessalonika – he did not know them – the letter shows the attitude of Paul when entering a community. A stance of love – tender love. The theme of love – not love of those we now – warm fuzzy feelings but an attitude – a way of being in the world –
Gospel – last of Jesus debates – the religious leaders are finally unable to say more. While it seems like 2 separate thoughts – both Matthew and Mark keep these 2 together (Luke puts the Good Sam story in here). The first part is an affirmation of all that the religious leaders and every person of faith know from birth -- the commandments of God and summary of the Law and the Prophets. The 2nd part is a debate about interpretation. Sometimes we know something so well we can’t back off to see the big picture – it takes a child or an outsider to ask a question that makes us see with new eyes. Jesus is saying to them – you have been so focused on your interpretation of Messiah – you have forgotten that Messiah will embody the 2 great commandments and the holy people of God will also embody these. When Leviticus repeats “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” Or I am the LORD your God – it is a command to live into what it means to be God’s people.
An interesting thing about Jesus words ---
Love God and love neighbor -- future tense
from Laughing Bird: Now in our reading, the word “love” is actually in the future form, not the imperative form. It reads more like a prediction that we will love than a command that we must love.
more of a promise than a command
We don't really know what it is to love fully in a relationship until time has been spend in the relationship --
giving our heart whole-heartedly - wanting the best for the other
pledging -- a promise -- like to consider -- all things come of thee o lord -- and....
what of God's own are we willing to part with in order to love God and neighbor with all our hearts, minds,
I am not talking just about giving to the church but what of our selves -- our gifts and talents as well as our money and time?
What are our priorities – each of us and all of us together.
As we enter this time of discernment about the future of St Catherine's -- take time to give yourself a round of applause and a gold star for all that has been.
You grew this church from a few people meeting with the Prayer book to this beautiful building with a Vicar and administrator and varieties of ministries, you support the Grub Club, the Soccer Club, Concert Series, Food Bank, the diocese, people around the world - like the mosquito nets for Africa and the bricks for Haiti.
Jesus talks about money more than any subject except prayer. Because he knows it reflects our true values. How we spend our money tells us what we value. Many of you generously give money to the church and all sorts of things that make this community a better place to live -- Many of you give hours and your talents to things like the Food Bank, city government, volunteering, teaching, sharing your gifts with others.
It is how we show our love for the coast and for the church -- the more we invest - the more we gain.
The Bible talks about a tithe 10% as a standard of giving - take a look at all you do for building God's "kingdom come"( as we pray each week in the Lord's Prayer.) I think you will be surprised at how much you do. Do we spend 10 % of our time loving God and loving our neighbor as ourself through our actions? Do we use 10% of our talents for building up God's dream?
The great thing about committing to a percentage -- it is not dependent on an amount. We of course like to know your best estimate - makes the budget committee feel better -- but if you say commit to 3% or 5% or even 10 % of your time, your abilities, your income - you don't have to worry any longer about making a certain amount of $$ - as your income ebbs and flows - so your pledge falls or rises. The percentage stays the same. Most people who do a percentage off the top - are amazed that it seems to make the rest seem like more. Why is that? I don't know. I just know that is the experience.
What I hope you will do this next few weeks is inventory your life – how do you spend your time – is 10 % doing things to love God and neighbor – I think you will find that most all of your time is doing this – whether you are having coffee with friends, shopping for groceries, calling a sick friend, working for your family or working at the Food Bank or Thrift shops or whatever – don’t be limited by “churchy” things. Examine it all and ask how does this show my love of God and neighbor? Same with the gifts you have been given. And with your money – how does all this show the priorities of your life of faith? As the Buddhists say – be mindful about everything. Or as Jesus says – where your treasure is there will be your heart. When you have done this turn your mind to the church and where you think that fits in the overall picture. Think about a percentage then give us an estimate of what that will be. We call it a pledge but it really is an estimate – a future we do do not know but hope will come to be.