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Pastor's Notes from The Scribe (October 2015)

posted Oct 2, 2015, 11:43 AM by Russell D. Hampton   [ updated Oct 2, 2015, 11:45 AM ]

Each Sunday, following the presentation of the gifts, the congregation prays together: Gracious God, we offer with joy and thanksgiving what you have first given us: ourselves, our time, and our possessions, signs of your gracious love.  Receive them for the sake of him who gave himself for us. Amen.  Take a few moments to pray this prayer.  Ponder the words and their meaning for your life. 

In Deuteronomy 8:11-20, the Lord God reminds the ancient Israelites of the great deeds God performed for them: the Lord God led them out of slavery; the Lord God led them through the wilderness; and the Lord God provided them manna and water from the rock.  The Lord God also reminds them that the multiplication of their wealth comes from the great blessings of God.  Therefore, the Lord God exhorts his people to remember the great deeds he has done for them.  They are to remember these deeds with prayers of thanksgiving. 

In Matthew 6:24, the gospel writer tells us that we cannot serve both God and mammon (mammon is translated as “wealth and possessions”).  Wealth, money, or possessions are not inherently evil themselves.  The power of sin corrupts how we perceive and value wealth, money, or possessions.  Yes, money is important to our lives.  We need it to pay or food, shelter, clothing, insurance, health care, utilities, taxes, etc.; it is used to support our children, elderly family members, and others in need.  However, when we look to fulfill only our own wants and desires or when we place our trust in our accumulated wealth and possessions, then we are serving mammon over God.  When the power of greed overtakes the call to help a neighbor in need or to respond to the cries of those hungry and thirsty, we serve mammon over God. 

Here are three points I ask you to ponder from this prayer and Scripture reading:

1.      Everything we have – even our abilities to acquire what we have – comes from God.  Therefore we should (and I place an emphasis on should) give thanks to God for what we have.  We should thank God that God gives us our daily bread (not just food, but also clothes, home and property, work and income, family, community, good government, favorable weather, peace, health, a good name, and true friends and neighbors). 

2.      We should not trust in mammon (wealth and possessions) above the Lord our God.  Wealth and possessions are fleeting – they will one day pass away.  God is eternal.  God in Christ Jesus gives us the hope in the world to come.  Even though I think it is fine to prepare ourselves and practice good financial health, when thoughts of having “enough” causes us to become exceedingly worried or misplace our trust, then it gets in the way of our trust in God. 

3.       We have a calling to return to the Lord what the Lord first graciously gives to us.  I don’t mean we need to repay God.  We can never repay God for what God gives to us, especially the gift of salvation in Christ Jesus.  However, I think God calls us to bring our offerings forward so we can support the mission and ministry of his Son, Jesus Christ.  We bring our gifts forward so that we can use them to feed the hungry, care for the sick, be a Lutheran voice in this community, educate our youth, provide a safe place to worship, and so forth.

 

I hope in the coming weeks you will reflect upon what God has graciously given to you. I pray you will give thanks to God for all that you have and ask the Spirit for guidance in placing your trust in God above earthly possessions.  Also, I ask that you prayerfully reflect upon your financial giving for the sake of your congregation, for the ministries we support within the community, and for the mission endeavors we support throughout the world.

God’s Peace ~ Pastor Maureen
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