Stewardship Sunday 2019

November 10, 2019  

Stewardship Sermon

November 10, 2019

Psalm 121:2

My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

 This verse is the foundation of what we believe about God.

Sunday after Sunday, in the Apostles’ Creed we say: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

In Luther’s Small Catechism, on this petition of the Creed, Luther wrote: What does this mean? I believe that God has created me together with all that exists. God has given me and still preserves my body and soul…

After explaining in detail the details of God’s provision and protection of each of us, Luther wrote: For all of this I owe it to God to thank and praise, serve and obey…

 Why do we “owe it to God to thank and praise, serve and obey?”

Because God, “the sovereign ruler of the cosmos has a personal concern for the lives of God’s people” (“Psalm 121:1-8 Commentary” in The New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. 4, p. 1181).

Our gifts to God are part of our response to God for all God has done for us. Our gifts to God are literally, a return gift, in-kind. God has given us our very lives. “God has given… and still preserves [our] bodies and [our] souls.” In return, we thank God with our financial gifts. We thank God with our gifts of time. We thank God with our gifts of talent—all given to God in God’s name.

Hopefully, we give joyfully.

We give to God in so many different ways besides the obvious.

When folks think about stewardship, the clearest implication is that we are “stewarding” our money: we are caring for our money as best we can by directing a portion of it to the Church. It is a given that this congregation needs our financial gifts. We need financial support to have a pastor and to have a staff and to engage in the ministries we engage in and to serve the needs we serve.

Hence, this morning, we make financial pledges to the church for next year, bringing our pledge cards forward during the offering.

I’d like to encourage an additional way to think about what it is we offer.

You have all already made an offering this morning. Your first offering has already been given.

When you got out of bed this morning and you decided to come to church instead of staying home, you made an offering.

If you are worshiping with us from home, or while on the road, or while staying with family or friends, you have already made your first offering.

Getting out of bed on a cold early winter’s day is an offering. There are only two people here who have to be here: me, and Trevor. We have to be here if we want to get paid! It is our job to get out of bed. It isn’t anybody else’s. You all made a choice to join us in worship, here physically or by using technology. That is a gift. You have given and are giving God the first hours of your day.

Your gift is not taken for granted.

Let’s add another layer to your giving. You are giving this time to God; this is also a gift of time to yourself and to your relationship with God. Adding a third layer, this gift of time is a gift to yourself and this community of faith. Your presence strengthens us and offers you the opportunity to be strengthened.

When I’m ready for worship, I have a habit of standing in the church office doorway, watching people arrive and walk into the sanctuary. Waiting and watching isn’t just an opportunity for me to say hi to people. Waiting and watching is an opportunity for me to watch an offering procession. Just as our ushers process up the aisle to hand our acolytes our offerings—you all process through the hallway, offering yourselves.

You’re getting out of bed; you’re getting dressed and getting in your car and driving to church; you’re hopping on your bike to ride here; you’re moving through your house or your camper to find your computer and your returning it on; you’re driving to a coffee shop with your laptop and finding our worship service—these are all movements that, when combined become an offering of self that is just as vital as the passing of an offering plate.

Think about this on a global level. Think of all the people who process to church somewhere, at some time. Think of people walking sidewalks to worship in huge cathedrals, people walking paths through forests or jungles to gather in open worship spaces, people gathering in chapels in nursing homes, people praying in or beside hospital beds—

All of this is self-giving. We are gifting God with ourselves and our time, thankful for all God has given us.

All of this is given because we know, because we trust that “our help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”

I look to the hills, from where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;

He who keeps you will not slumber.

He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;

The Lord is your shade at your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day,

Nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;

He will keep your life.

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in

From this time on and forever more.

Quoting Luther:

For all of this we owe it to God to thank and praise, serve and obey. Amen.