Thursday, December 13, 2018

Open My Eyes, Part 4

The following post is the fourth in a series based on a sermon I preached in October.

On October 20, 1996, we were in worship. The lectionary reading for the day was from the epistle Paul wrote to the church at Philippi.  These are the words from Philippians chapter 4, verses 4-9 that I heard that Sunday morning:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.  Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
In that moment, God, through this scripture, told me to stop looking only at the injury. Look at the child. This child, who is honorable and just and pure and pleasing, who is commendable, excellent and worth of praise. Think on these things, too.

I didn’t, of course, stop worrying or stop working to help Josh recover. But I did realize that I hadn’t been seeing anything except the injury. I was missing the gift of the son. I had been seeing through eyes of scarcity, and God opened my eyes to the abundance before me.

I think all of us are guilty of what I was doing 22 years ago – seeing only scarcity. We miss so much because we will not see.

I am grateful that Mark has invited me to share the word with you this morning – and that the invitation was for a return visit – I preached at this Church last year at about this time, and spoke about Stewardship.  I’m grateful to be asked to do that again - it’s my favorite topic.

Last year I told you that stewardship is the word that no one wants to talk about.  I feel sorry for the word. It’s such a great word, and we have relegated it to the back closet. If it’s a stewardship sermon, we don’t want to hear it. A stewardship Sunday school lesson? Nope. Maybe a workshop on Wednesday evening about stewardship? We would never do it.

It’s too bad – it’s a great word. But we can only understand it if we learn what I started to learn that day 22 years ago – we have to start seeing who we are and what we have been given with eyes of abundance instead of scarcity.

And I can guess what you’re thinking. Maybe. Some of you. “No wonder she’s taking about abundance – she wants me to give my money to the church – or at least more than I am – and she’s saying ‘Look, you have lots – give it to the church!’”.

Nope. That’s not my message today, not at all, and no matter what anybody tells you, that is not a stewardship message. But I do think that’s what we think stewardship is, and it’s no wonder we don’t want to talk about it.

If stewardship isn’t me asking you for money, then what is it?

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