The Lighthouse Keeper

Greetings from Pastor Kerry, former pastor of Spring City UMC. This blog contains my sermon outlines and/or manuscripts from my pastorate among the people of Spring City PA, from 2006 to 2011. Pastor Dennis is now the lighthouse keeper. Come and worship on Sundays at 10:00 a.m.!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

If Everybody Tithed...

November 8, 2009
Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost

A Stewardship Message
Mark 12:38-44 – The Widow’s Mite

“All the Israelite men and women whose hearts made them willing to bring anything for the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done, brought it as a freewill offering to the Lord.” – Exodus 35:29

My sermon outline:

• The preacher stood up in front of the congregation one day and said, “There’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is, we have enough money to do the outreach project we want to do. The bad news is, it’s still in your pockets.”

• “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate!”
(Cool Hand Luke, 1967. Paul Newman)
Unfortunately things get left undone or underdone in life for the simple problem of not communicating.

Jesus is communicating something here in Mark 12: that motive not amount is important.

• A Tale of Two Givers: The widow & the rich folk.

Why does the widow give? Out of poverty. It’s not obligation. Trust. Worship.

Why do the rich give? Out of abundance. Perhaps to be seen. Perhaps to provide for the church or the poor. Given the context of the immediate passage before this one, it seems Jesus is making a negative example of these givers.

• Aside: ancient tithe was obligation, to support the priesthood and provide for the poor. Like a church tax. We believe now that God asks for our firstfruits, the first 10% of our resources, and we call that the tithe.

Paul encourages and praises such givers in 2 Corinthians 9:7: Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And check out this example from Exodus 35: (read 35:20-29)

• There’s a third giver in today’s gospel reading: you, the disciple, the observer with Jesus.

How do you give? Out of abundance or poverty? Obligation or worship? For show or for God?

• Many Christians consider the 10% tithe the starting place for giving, although the Barna institute reports that less than a quarter of Christians give 10% of their income... (actually only about 8 out of 100 tithe). Statistically 5 to 15 out of the 65 people in this room right now tithe.

Just some numbers for you: If everybody in this room tithed from a take-home income of $28K, their offering would be about $54 a week, and we would have to have a meeting to decide what to do with our extra income.

Conversely, a person giving $5 a week will give about $260 a year, which would be a tithe for an annual take-home income of $2,600... If all 65 of us gave $5 a week, the church would have $17,000 to pay for its mission and ministry, its minister and staff, its bricks and mortar, etc. $17K.

• My purpose in telling you all this is to honor Jesus, who knew that it wasn’t easy but who gave us his all (literally) and who praised the widow who trusted and gave her all,

and to challenge you to examine not only what part of your income you give, but why you give it, and are you satisfied and worshipful or are you guilty and pressured.

• Hymn 391 O Happy Day That Fix’d My Choice

- Pastor Kerry

This Sunday: 73 in worship.


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