Here are my sermon notes from Sunday.
A Culture of Generosity Matthew 22:34-46
Pastor Dan Damon, Richmond 1st UMC, 10-26-14
A new book came as a gift to me in the mail this week. It is entitled, She
Lives! Sophia Wisdom Works in the World, by Rev. Jann Aldredge-Clanton, PhD,
Skylight Paths Publishing, Woodstock, Vermont, ISBN 978-1-59473-573-8.
From the back cover and table of contents:
The book is an invitation to meet the ministers and laypeople
driving foundational Christian theological change and restoring awareness of
the sacred value of women and girls. In a world filled with injustice and
violence, we long for a new sacred symbolism to inspire transformation. Our
yearning includes a widespread hunger for visions of the [divine feminine]
in church life and worship to restore gender-balance and finally achieve
just, equal, and inclusive faith communities. This collection of engrossing
narratives of women and men trying to change the institutional church‹and
society‹illuminates how reclaiming multicultural female images of God
extends beyond the sanctuary and into the community. Whether you are
searching for your own place in the church or you want to explore this
growing movement, these fascinating pioneers invite you to join the
adventure of creating rituals that include [biblical feminine God imagery],
affirming the sacred value of all people and all creation.
There are sections on gender equality, racial equality, marriage equality,
economic justice, caring for creation (I have a chapter in this section),
non-violence, expanding spiritual experience, interfaith collaboration,
changing hierarchies into circles, creative worship, and feminist
emancipatory faith communities. The book is a gift to me. My writing and
pastoral ministry is a gift to the book. In a culture of generosity giving
Retell the Scripture Story
At last we have a gospel reading we can all relate to. Love is the great
commandment. Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5 (part of the Shema, from the
first word in Hebrew, meaning hear) to answer the basic question, ³You shall
love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with
all your might.² Jesus then added something from Leviticus 19:18. He gave
them the second greatest commandment as well: Love your neighbor as
yourself. Then Jesus said, ³On these two commandments hang all the law and
What kind of generosity will it take for us to love our neighbors as we love
ourselves? Just when I thought we had an easy gospel lesson, I find the
interpretation and the living of it to be very difficult indeed. Some of us
have trouble loving ourselves. We know ourselves too well, and fear we do
not measure up to the high standards set for us by our parents, our doctors,
our teachers, etc. I fear I will not be able to play the piano as well as
Oscar Peterson new summer in New Orleans at the Hymn Society Jazz and
Congregational Song event that I am leading. It takes an effort to love and
accept ourselves, with our human limitations.
Once we realize the task is not to be some one else, but to be our best
selves in the world, our most loving and generous selves, then we can get on
with our piano lessons, continue our studies, and re-do our budgets of time,
talent, and treasure, to minimize fear, and to maximize generosity. When we
become more generous with ourselves, we can become more generous to others.
We can love our neighbor more fully as we offer our unique gifts in the
world. We show our love for God [commandment one] by loving our neighbors as
we love ourselves [commandment two]. This is how it works.
Like the Silent Auction, it is a win/win situation. We love a work of art.
We give it away. Someone else loves it and buys it. Later that person may
donate it back to the auction and we have a sustainable model of fundraising
for the church. Today we say a warm thank you to Debbie Benko, and to all
who helped with the 6th Annual Jean Eakle Silent Auction. We had a lot of
fun while doing the needed fundraising for our small but mighty church.
I found a little help this week in my newsletter from the Hymn Society in
the United States and Canada. [Tell story of meeting Eileen at the Hymn
Society Conference] The Hymn Society is in the middle of an endowment
campaign to expand the work of the society. Here is a note from Texas United
Methodist pastor and hymnwriter, John Thornburg:
³It¹s amazing what happens to us when we realize that we really care about
something. When I was approached about making a gift to our endowment
campaign, the person asking me for the gift simply asked me, ³What do you
love about the Hymn Society?² My mind went on a tour of wonderful memories:
singing and making friends at summer conferences, honing my text writing
craft at a Hymn Society-sponsored event, getting my questions about hymns
and songs answered by wonderfully competent scholars, etc.
The more I told the stories of what the Hymn Society has meant to me, the
more I wanted to make a change. I wanted to stop being a dues payer, and I
wanted to become a generous donor. Paying dues only keeps the organization
where it is right now. Generosity is what will help us reach the wonderful
plans that lie at the center of this campaign.
I knew I was grateful for the life-changing effect the Hymn Society has had
on my life, and I wanted to start making gifts that demonstrated my
gratitude. What I discovered was that the more generous I was, the more
joyful I felt. I wish that same joy for you.² John Thornburg, Past President
of the Hymn Society
What can we do here and in the world as we develop our own culture of
Let us be in prayer.
Attachment(s) from BARBARA HALEY | View attachments on the web
1 of 1 File(s)