The Educational Support Organization, Inc.
The Nourishing Place
We are a 501-c-3, Not-for-Profit Charitable Organization
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The Nourishing Thought: “The only significance of life consists in helping to establish the kingdom of God in the here and now.” Leo Tolstoy
Words of Wisdom: “The kingdom of God is not a matter of getting individuals to heaven, but of transforming the life on earth into the harmony of heaven.” Walter Rauschenbusch
“If you have not chosen the kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead.” William Law
Sermon, October 7, 2018
One of the amazing and stimulating traits of the teachings of Jesus is his reversal of conventional wisdom. Again and again, Jesus turns things upside down to show that the kingdom of God is different from the earthly kingdoms we establish. The morals of his parables and teachings are usually not what we expect...they have surprise endings, such as the last is first, the poor are more blessed, the master is a servant to all, and God’s ways are not our ways, nor his thoughts our thoughts.
One of the most important teachings is that to have authority, to be a leader, is to become a servant. In our expectations, we look at men and women who have authority and we expect them to be powerful and wealthy. But Jesus taught the opposite. In the Kingdom of God, the really great, powerful, life-altering people are those who willingly serve others...at all costs. God honors his servants because he knows his servants will never harm others or manipulate them to gain power for themselves. God’s power is sufficient for his servants.
Another major teaching probably makes no sense to us humans...and that is to love your enemies, be good to those who persecute you, and give to those who take from you. We don’t want to do that; we want to get even, we want to have revenge. But Jesus taught (Matthew 5: 43-44) you shall love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. In our holy scriptures, they are holy because if we obey them they make us whole and healthy, Paul stresses that teaching. He stated that we are to love our enemies and by doing so we actually get back at them because we are relieved of the burden of harming someone. God will handle the one who hurt you. Revenge is the Lord’s. But here is an interesting verse: The Lord says, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” In the first century people carried things on their heads. If they were moving from one place to another, they would bind up the coals from their fire, and take them with them to their next place of residence. That way they did not have to start a fire all over again.. and therefore the burning coals would enable them to cook and stay warm without undue effort. So in effect, by heaping coals on their heads is actually a way of helping and assisting your enemies...which is God’s desire for us
Another strange teaching is to become rich, give your money away. To our human way of thinking to have money we hoard it, invest it, or save it. Many people don’t give because they are afraid of being without themselves. But Jesus says, “Give and it will be given to you. (Luke 6: 38) The world works on the principle of buying and selling. But the kingdom of God works on the principle of giving and receiving. The Kingdom of God is upside down from how we think and feel. Jesus said that giving of our selves, our time, energy, and money, triggers a reaction. It causes the things we give away to come back to us 30, 60, 100 fold...not necessarily in kind but often something even better. And this principle applies across the board. You can not out give God, even when you give out of need rather than out of plenty, you will gain more. Ultimately it is not about money. It is about our attitude towards money. IF the only reason you give money in order to receive it, you have totally missed the point and that attitude will have a negative impact on you. But when you give out of a true desire to help and bless others, then the harvest will come for you to receive. Jesus said, “Seek you first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
There are other teachings that turn your ideas upside down….read the New Testament and look for these stories...they will bless you, they will give you the skills you need to enhance your life by focusing on something other than your ego. So, where am I going with this?
The answer: conventional wisdom is cultural, societal, and man-made based on ego...that is, what’s in it for me, or what is good for me? Christ wisdom is the death of ego to set you free to ask, not what is best for me, but what is best for others and me. Christ wisdom is love...and the greatest experience of love in action comes when we are kind to all others, when we do not judge others or categorize someone as less than we are. Through Christ wisdom we are enabled to accept others’ weaknesses, differences, and shortcomings, and to have patience with someone who has let us down or disappointed us. Christ wisdom resists becoming offended when another doesn’t act the way we hoped or handled something in the way we wanted. Christ love refuses to take advantage of another’s weakness then forgiving someone who has hurt us. Christ love chooses to see the best in each other.
You have a choice of ego driven, conventional wisdom which does involve stress, conflicts, and a desire to control all….which is impossible. Or you can choose Christ wisdom, and follow the flow of life that leads to peace, hope, and stress-free living based on trust and faith in a gracious God.
Your choice. Amen
The Nourishing Thought: “The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest.” Anon
Words of Wisdom: “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.”
“Forgiveness is the surrender of our victimhood-taking back the power of full personhood that was stripped from us by another or our selves.” D. Prisbin
Sermon, September 30, 2018
Today I want us to think about forgiveness. It is one of the foundational concerns of our faith. As scripture tells us, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But thanks to the good news of the gospels, we don’t have to wallow in guilt over our wrongdoings. We have been given a gift from our Creator...and that gift is forgiveness.
We know from life experiences that every action has a consequence...either a positive one or a negative one. It seems we often keep doing the harmful things we do hoping we don’t get caught...
rather than just stopping our harmful tactics. Getting caught and having consequences, however, can be the best most corrective thing that can happen to us.
For example: a lady wanted a pet, so she purchased a parrot that could talk. The parrot was mean and spoke only unkind hurtful things to the lady. He told her she was ugly and useless. Every time she tried to feed him he pecked her on her arm and laughed. After several days, she had had enough. She grabbed the parrot and threw him in her freezer. For a few minutes he kept talking but then there was silence. The lady thought, “Oh, gosh, I’ve killed him.” She rushed to the freezer, opened the door, and the parrot was there shivering. The parrot said, “Lady, I am sorry for the things I have said. Please forgive me and I’ll only say nice things from now on.” The lady replied, “I accept your apology.” Before the parrot flew out of the freezer, he looked beside him and said, “May I ask you a question.” Yes, she said. He asked her, “What did the chicken do to you?”
That is so corny, but it makes a great point. The parrot suffered consequences, but he noticed the chicken perhaps suffered more stringent ones than he did. Is that not how many of us look at life and the wrongdoings therein? We compare our sins to those of others and often excuse ourselves because ours isn’t nearly as awful...or so we think.
Young people feel immortal and think they are smart enough to misbehave and not get caught. That is rarely the case. Knowing this about us humans that God himself created, he loved us enough to build in a saving devise available to all of us. It is called forgiveness: we are to utilize forgiveness as we forgive ourselves and others. It keeps us humane and opens doors for healing, for getting rid of guilt, anger, and fear.
In the Lord’s prayer we say most Sundays, there is a phrase that states: Father forgive us our trespasses (sins) as we forgive those who have trespassed or sinned against us. That word “as” has two connotations. WE are forgiven as we forgive, that is in the very act of our forgiving others we too are forgiven. The other way to look at the word “as” is we are to forgive as much as God has forgiven us.
It is my opinion that forgiveness is the great test of a Christ filled life. You can look at almost any thing humans desire to become, and tests are always part of that becoming. For example if you want to be a pro-football player you have to have a certain skill set...but you have to pass the test of running a certain distance in a certain amount of time, or tackling someone without seriously hurting them our yourself. There are tests you must pass to become a football player. If you want to be a doctor, you have to have intelligence, caring, and an ability to spend long hours wide awake, because you hold another life in your hand. You take many tests to make sure you can legitimately call yourself Doctor.
The same thing occurs as we become Christians. To be a Christian means you live every day the way Jesus the Christ lived. One great test we must pass in order to legitimately call ourselves followers of Christ is to forgive all, all the time, and do so willingly.
Many of the greatest minds have discovered the power of forgiveness of self and others. Paul Tillich taught that there is no condition for forgiveness...it is a choice Henri Nouwen stated “Forgiveness is love practiced among people who love poorly. It sets us free without wanting anything in return. Francis of Assisi said, “It is in forgiving that we are forgiven.” Robert Frost learned that to be social at all is to be forgiven. Francis Bacon said that a person who wants revenge keeps his wounds open, which otherwise would heal and do well. Confucius taught that to be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it. Lastly, medical and psychological researches have documented the positive effects of forgiveness on the forgiver. They say forgiveness reduces stress, lowers the risk of heart disease, and aids people in having happier, better adjusted, and healthier relationships. Sounds like forgiveness is worth pursuing.
Once we decide to be Christian, then we are making a commitment to live like Jesus did in regards to loving others, forgiving self and others, and being kind and compassionate. I think those are the real tests of being a Christian. How do you rate yourself in those areas? Amen
.The Nourishing Thought: “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that is your own self.” Aldous Huxley
Words of Wisdom: “Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” Les Brown
“If you believe it will work out, you will see opportunities. If you believe it won’t work out, you will see obstacles.” Wayne Dyer
Sermon, September 23, 2018
Several years ago I was in Oxford keeping my grandchildren. Charlie was 8 and Camille was 11. I had asked them what they wanted to do that afternoon and immediately Charlie said let’s jump on the trampoline. Camille said, “No, let’s go bike riding.” An argument ensued. Charlie became adamant and insisted, “Let’s jump, its fun. I want to jump on the trampoline.” Camille kept saying very loudly, “No, I’m not jumping. We are going bike riding. Charlie countered, “NO, trampoline.” Finally, fully exasperated, Camille looked at Charlie and said, “Whaat eveah!” Then she walked away. Charlie gasped, like he had been hit! He immediately felt completely dismissed, of no value. He started wailing and crying, “Camille said whatever to me. She can’t say whatever to me.”
I was a bit surprised by Charlie’s apparent devastation, until I realized the word “whatever” conveyed at that moment what Camille felt about Charlie and his wants. He got the message that who he was and what he wanted simply didn’t matter to Camille. He was completely unimportant.
Words are powerful because they reflect our thoughts. They never just stand alone...they always reflect our thoughts...they are symbols of our inner most ideas, feelings, and thoughts.
The word “whatever” held dire consequences for Charlie.
Interestingly, in recent years Marist College on the Hudson River in New York took a poll attempting to discover the most annoying words Americans use. 47 % of those surveyed said “whatever” was the most annoying. “You know” came in as the second most annoying, and the words “anyway” and “at the end of the day” were the third most annoying words we use.
But also interesting is that the very same word can have a completely different meaning depending on how it is spoken and in what context.
For example, look at our scripture today. Every phrase starts with “whatever. In this instance the word is used to reflect the importance of the teachings of Jesus. So we must first think then speak “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
There are other “whatevers” in scripture. Paul used it in several of his epistles” “In Philippians he wrote, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I am.”In Galatians, he states, “Whatever a person sows, this he will reap.” To the Corinthians he wrote, “Whatever you do, do all to the gory of God.”
Perhaps the hardest things in life to control are our thoughts and the words we use. Scientists tell us humans have 10,000 thoughts every day! Most of us probably think our words and actions make up most of what we spend time on. However, not by a long shot. Our thoughts are never ceasing...when we are awake, when we are asleep, even in our unconsciousness words march across our brain in unending fashion. Our thoughts compose the major part of who we really are. That’s why today’s scripture warns us to train our minds, or as God calls our minds our hearts, to think in kind, lovely, honorable ways. Admittedly it is hard to do, but have you listened lately to a movie or a tv show? The language used even by young people is pornographic, it is negative, it is beneath us a people of a holy God.
Someone once said, “”Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions they become habits; watch your habits, they become your character; and watch your character for it becomes your destiny and your fate.” I think this statement is completely true.
Wise people have stated through the centuries that we as humans do nothing without thinking about it first...maybe fleetingly yet it still flashes through our minds prior to action. So if we could control our thoughts better, our actions would improve tremendously. If we want to grow spiritually, if we want to increase our sense of peace and joy, if we want to be more who God wants us to be then we must win the war over bad thoughts because they become harmful words and can create disharmony or chaos.
Now in America, we do have the right to free speech….that is a civil law. But it works best when used with a spiritual law to speak no harmful words and think no damaging thoughts.
Just how Christian, how Christlike are we, in the control and use of our thoughts and resulting words.
Use this week to ponder that question. In the meantime, don’t say “Yeh, God, what evaaah”...rather say, “God, whatever you want is what I want.” Amen
The Nourishing Thought: “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that is your own self.” Aldous Huxley
Words of Wisdom: “Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” Les Brown
“If you believe it will work out, you will see opportunities. If you believe it won’t work out, you will see obstacles.” Wayne Dyer
Sermon, September 16, 2018
This week is the first anniversary of being in our new, beautiful sanctuary. One year. I asked Max what this week might mean to him. This is his reply: “It’s amazing. You get a square of dirt, stack up on it a lot of bricks, hold them together with mortar, love, and compassion, then you open the door and God walks in. All of a sudden thus is a holy, sacred place for all time.” Then he said, “That doesn’t happen when Walmarts are built.”
Yes, this is a sacred place...and I see it as a birthing place...as we birth the true spirit of Christ inside in our hearts and minds; I see it as a nursery...like plant nursery...where we encourage each other to grow, expand, become more open and mature. Where we fertilize one another with good food, great companionship, and a commitment to study together the Bible and our faith founder Jesus, the Christ. Taken all together it seems to be a recipe for abundant Christian living. The gifts of caring, participating and your funds create an amazing outreach...because your caring, your love, is taken out into our broader community where hundreds of little school age children are adored and encouraged, taught confidence and reading skills, and where success at home, school and in the community are enhanced. We reach out to neighbors in need to provide food, clothing, household items that help struggling families. Our scholarship program gives young, determined students funds to gain further knowledge and skills. In a year, we have even expanded by purchasing the red house behind us as a meeting place...we want it to be used to further friendships, a place where knowledge and laughter go together. God has blessed this church, this place, and all of us together because I think we are doing what He has asked us to do….be kind, be compassionate, be loving, be forgiving,be humble, and trust him...the God of all.
Now you might wonder why I read some of the genealogy of Jesus this morning….it is because the Jewish people found meaning in their own history. They looked to the past for their purpose. And, it told who Jesus was. The original readers of Matthew’s gospel were Jewish people and Matthew believed they could best understand Jesus if they knew their history of past saviors: Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David...and the best of all, the real anointed Messiah, Jesus.
In our case, we look at our Christian history and have gratitude for those who have gone before us to protect this story and this holy possibility in spite of the horrors so many faced. Our meaning, then, is not just in the past, it is in the present and the future. And what does the future hold for us?
I think first and foremost we are responsible to God to keep the stories of Jesus and his life-altering love alive. And how do we do so? We have a responsibility to young people to help prepare them for life ahead that right now may be quite scary and hostile. They need skills beyond what schools can teach. They need churches to teach hope, to value faithful living, and to give of themselves as a way to live.
We have a responsibility to older people in our church and community. We need to help meet their needs in a world that is changing too rapidly to keep up….technology changes minute to minute and older citizens struggle with phones, and Ipads, and things unheard of 10 years ago.
We have responsibility to this community to be examples of Christ’s unfailing love. Nearly everywhere I go people remark about you, people of the Nourishing Place, and they are astounded at what you do without all fanfare and advertising. You humbly and meekly and wonderfully serve our risen Lord and people take notice.
And we have a responsibility to continue being part of this church, to come together to learn more about the power of love, the majesty of grace, and to strengthen you, prepare you, and propel you into the next and coming years of ministry in this place and this community.
So today, let’s remember who we are in Christ, remember where we have been, and then look to the future, remembering what we have been put here to do and where we are going. Let us infuse the future beginning today with God’s wisdom, Jesus’ love, and our own commitment to serve one another as God’s people...He is here, he walks among us, he depends on us to spread the good news as we become more and more aware of our own sanctification...we are set apart to work and to make life holy, sacred, and meaningful. God is faithful, kind, merciful and we must be so as well. May we live in gratitude for the lives we have been given...and may they produce even more grace in this place and this community. Amen
The Nourishing Thought: “You receive what you give!”
Words of Wisdom: Some people look for a beautiful place. Others make a place beautiful.”
H. Inayat Khan
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” Albert Einstein
Sermon, September 9, 2018
Today’s scripture is one of those stories that makes us think things we don’t want to think about...it forces us to ask ourselves just how far we are willing to go to serve the purpose of a loving, forgiving God.
So let’s put this story in today’s setting. Suppose we are all here in the sanctuary, listening to spiritual music, getting in the mood to think about our relationship to our God, and there is a knock on the front door. We open the door and the infamous murderer Charles Manson is standing there. He announces in a loud voice, “Hey, I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to kill people any more, I want to know Jesus and serve him.”
What would you think, and what would you do?
I think we would be afraid, terrified. We certainly would not trust him nor want him to come inside. Someone might call the police to have him removed from our presence. Some of us might drop to the floor or run out to the kitchen. Perhaps we would be too afraid to move, and not know what to do.
Well, what if Jesus himself was part of this congregation and he was here that day. What do you think Jesus would say to Charles Manson and what would he do?
Now, hold that thought for a minute and look at today’s story again. When Saul came to Jerusalem to see the apostles they did not believe Saul and they were afraid of him. He had murdered Christians by the hundreds, he was part of the Pharisees...those men who despised Jesus. But one day as Saul was going down the road to kill more Christians he had a vision...the risen Christ Spirit spoke to him. And Saul changed his mind. He no longer wanted to kill people, he wanted to serve this new faith based on Jesus’ teachings of love and acceptance. Even when he told the apostles what had happened to him they still were not sure of him. They wanted proof that his words were backed up by his actions. Fortunately for Saul, he had a friend named Barnabas who vouched for Saul. Barnabas told the apostles that Saul had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. Reluctantly, the apostles allowed Saul to stay with them in Jerusalem. One day Saul was preaching to some Greek Jews. They tried to kill him, so the apostles took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. And an amazing thing happened. Once the leader of the band of Jewish murderers, Saul, was converted, the murders of Christians stopped for a while, and the church throughout the Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. The church was strengthened and encouraged by the Holy Spirit and it grew in numbers.
Now back to the earlier question. If Jesus was a part of our congregation, and each of us must decide if he is or not, then we need to think about what he would have said and done to Charles Manson. This is my opinion and only an opinion. Knowing Jesus through scriptural stories I think Jesus would have gone to the door, probably embraced Mr. Manson, and walked him a far distance from the rest of us to keep us safe. Then I think Jesus spent time with him. He might have taken him down to the Waffle House, fed him, asked him about his change of mind. Jesus would care for him. But, that is Jesus’ job. To take the bad, the horrible, the terrifying aspects of our lives and help us make peace from them.
What we need to realize is that Saul, before he was converted and became Paul, was just as terrifying, horrible, cruel and vicious as Charles Manson. Yet, God anointed Saul to change his mind and teach the rest of us how vital to life faith is, how essential the teachings of Jesus are in order to live abundantly.
Remember Moses? He, was a murderer, but God anointed him to write down the laws that direct humane behavior. So my conclusion is Jesus never discounts anyone for any reason...and neither should we.
We claim to be followers of Jesus, of his teachings, and we claim to trust him with our lives. So, what would you do about possible unwanted visitors at our own door? Is there any real redemption for them? If so, what small part would you be willing to play in offering grace to such people?
We may not have murderers come through our doors, but we do have people who have sinned terribly and I am certainly one of those people. As are some of you. We have people come to us whose actions and words have hurt others and damaged spirits. We have people here who have spent time in jail, who are hungry and lost and come to us for nourishment. Some of them come fresh from jail and stand in the breakfast or supper lines and then sit at a table all alone while others of us quickly go sit with people we know. We meet people in the aisles of grocery stores, the post office, hospital waiting rooms, on and on, who are starving for a smile, a kind word, a warm touch. A forgiving spirit. How do you treat these people? As discards, unworthy of your attention? Or are they people worthy of God’s love and yours?
Today’s message, that is difficult and sometimes frightening, comes straight from the teachings of Jesus himself. The message is all about how you treat other people with special attention given to the outcasts or the different ones.
As Christians what should we do? What will you do? Amen
The Nourishing Thought: “Words which do not give the light of love increase the darkness.” Mother Teresa
Words of Wisdom: “Would it appall you or delight you if Christ revealed your thoughts to others?”
“Humans look at each other’s outward appearance; but the Lord looks at our hearts.”
Sermon, August 19, 2018
Jesus, Moses, and an old bearded guy were playing golf. On the first tee Moses shanked the ball into a lake. He parted the water and hit his ball onto the green. Jesus teed off, hitting his ball into another water hazard. But he walked on the water, and stroked his ball just short of the cup. Then the old bearded man stepped up for his tee shot. He hit the ball with tremendous force, but hooked it badly. The ball bounced off the clubhouse roof, hit the cart path, and rolled down a hill into a pond, coming to rest on a lily pad. A frog hopped over and picked up the ball, then an eagle swooped down, snatched the frog, and flew over the green. The frog dropped the ball and it rolled into the cup for a hole in one. Moses turned to Jesus and said, “I hate playing golf with your dad.”
Yes, God can do anything...he is powerful, creative, brilliant, and a master of all good things. However, he depends on one of his special creations to carry out his plans of goodness. That special creation is you and me...us frail, faulty, sinful, uncaring humans. He trusts us at some point in time to come to our senses and realize God knows what he is doing and he is wiser than all of us put together.
So he sends a special someone to earth to show us what to think and how to use our lives for a greater good. One way we do this task is to use the mind of Christ that is already inside of us.
As a young man, Jesus would have been familiar with the prophets of old. He would have known each one by name, when and where that prophet lived, and most importantly what that prophet taught him about God and God’s will. From the prophets Hosea and Micah, Jesus would have learned what God expected of him: not burnt sacrifices but goodness. “God has shown you young man what is goodness. Here is what God requires of you. To do justice, to be merciful, and to walk humbly with your Lord.” Jesus not only practiced those aspects but he taught his own disciples to do likewise, and hopefully us as well.
So what does it mean to do justice? Throughout history it seems people associated God’s justice with punishment. However, if you carefully read scripture, you see again and again where God’s justice is fair, it is righteous. In Job he says, “the Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power; yet in his justice and great righteousness he does not oppress or hurt.” From the Psalms we read, “God is full of unfailing love.” God is upright and good, he is fair and equitable. He doesn’t show preference to some over others...his love is abundantly available to all people in the same portion. His love does not show favoritism. Therefore, we are to emulate those traits and attitudes. As followers of a good and grace full God, we too must love without prejudice, stand up for what is right for all people...all races, ethnic groups, nations, and religions. God cares especially for the outsider, the marginalized, and we should emulate that all-encompassing compassion as well.
The second thing Jesus learned and taught about what God requires is mercy. God’s mercy means that when we deserve punishment God does not punish us. Rather he blesses us instead. We might punish ourselves through our actions and poor choices, but God does not. He blesses, he loves, he forgives, he anoints, he lifts us up, he is indeed merciful, he does not give us what we deserve, he gives us love. If we live into the mind of Christ that is within us, we too must show mercy. We might condemn an act of hate and harm, but we must encourage the perpetrator to seek forgiveness and repent….meaning the perpetrator will cease his harmful acts. Sound impossible? Sound improbable? Yes. However, God’s truth prevails and our task is to at least attempt to emulate and imitate his kind of mercy. When we choose to do so, the spirit within us will help and guide. So we are here to do God’s will and leave he results to him.
The third thing Jesus taught about what God requires is that we walk humbly with God. That means we walk side by side with God, for indeed his breath, his life, is within us. We must seek a close friendship with God flavored with adoration for his majesty and gifts to us, recognizing all good things, all good things, come from God...through us. Do not put Godly life in the back of your mind...rather keep those truths as guides for each day of your life. God resists pride in people, but he gives grace to the humble. The more humble you become the more God will work through you.
As Christians we are to have the same characteristics that Jesus had while he walked this earth. That means we have his mind as well as his spirit. Having the mind of Christ means sharing the plan, purpose, and perspective of Christ. The plan is for all people to recognize and accept the love of God for all people. The purpose is to be personally involved in living your life with the intentions to follow the way of Jesus, to have the faith of Jesus, and to share your experience of the risen Christ spirit within you. The perspective is obedience to his teachings...they exist to guide us into living lives of abundance in all the areas that make life meaningful: like love, peace, forgiveness, grace, compassion. If we do these things we will love ourselves and others in a new light, a refreshing experience. We will know we are doing what we were put here to do. And we will reap the benefits which are joy and fearlessness. Isn’t this way of living at least worth the effort to try it?
As Gandhi once said, “I thought Christianity was the best of all possible religions, until I met a Christian. Then I realized the way of Christ has not really been tried.”
Is that a condemnation, or an urging to try it, do it, live it. We can’t possibly go wrong. Amen
The Nourishing Thought: “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist seeks opportunity in every difficult.” Winston Churchill
Words of Wisdom: “Knowing is not enough; we must apply what we know. Wishing is not enough; we must do our wishes.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Creativity is intelligence having fun!” Albert Einstein
Sermon, August 12, 2018 The Widow’s Mite
Contrary to popular thought, this biblical lesson isn’t about money...it is totally about trust in God’s way of living. The story indicates that Jesus and his friends were standing near the Women’s Court in the temple watching who tossed money into one of the 13 receptacles that were spaced throughout this court. The wealthy made a great show of throwing enough coins in to make a noise...to be noticed. However, the indigent woman, the widow, only had to of the smallest coins...the two equaled a penny. She put both in and they made not a sound.
Here was a woman herself in need of charity, however she had a giving heart and willingly gave her last money to God.
Listen to this modern day parable that teaches the same lesson. A Sunday School teacher had a class of children 7 to 9 years old. She was teaching a lesson about obeying God and being generous. Very excitably she asked the class, “If you had a million dollars would you be willing to give most of it to help people in need?” Equally excited the class shouted “Yes! Then she asked if you had a hundred thousand dollars would you be willing to give most of it to help the poor?” The class shouted “Yes!” Then she asked, “If you had one dollar, would you be willing to give most of it to help people in need?” The class shouted “Yes” except for one boy who shouted “No!” The teacher asked him why he said “no”. His answer was, “Because I have a dollar.”
Think about it. Altruism, helping, loving, being generous are wonderful to think about, delightful to ponder, nice to consider...but actually doing loving, giving, being altruistic at your own risk and cost are altogether something different. We want to keep what we have even though our faith says we own nothing...God owns it all. God allows us to use what we have, what we have worked hard for and earned, to assist his people in need.
The story of the widow is her life and livelihood means very little outside of her devotion to her God. She trusted God with her livelihood which was her life.
Some folks don’t like to think about offering what we have to God’s work for fear we will lose what we have….but let me remind you. Thirteen years ago many of you in this room lost every possession you had...house, car, jewelry, photos, lifetime memories to a storm named Katrina. But look at your now. Some have more than you ever had. Some have had those important things replaced. God did not leave you alone….through people who have a willingness to help and give came forward and resurrected this community.
The moral of this teaching is we must never, ever, ever blame fear, our fear of loss, for not obeying God’s call to give yourself away in caring...in whatever way it comes to you at whatever the cost. A radical teaching? “Yes.” Isn’t that what a Christian, a follower of Christ is asked to do? Live radically on God’s terms not your own.
If and when you decide to do so you will never regret it. It is the way of Christ. Amen