Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Stewardship / Financial Commitment Sunday
God blesses Jacob in a vision ("Jacob's Ladder") and Jacob responds in worship and offering.
• Some statistics on the Bible and money… 500 verses on prayer, 500 on faith. 2,000 on money and possessions. Nearly half of Jesus’ parables, and 1 out of 10 gospel verses.
• Take out page of scripture. Genesis 27 Jacob tricks Esau out of birthright and blessing by lying to dying father. Esau makes plans to kill Jacob (27:41). Rebekah sends Jacob off to her brother’s land 500 miles away (here to
). It’s his first night running away. He receives a dream /vision / visit from God, who tells him I will protect you, I will multiply you, I will bring you back. Jacob’s response? Awesome. I will give you 1/10 of what I have. Montreal
(Two generations before, his grandfather Abram had given a similar spontaneous offering of a tenth of his resources in response to a divine blessing.)
Jacob’s motive? Thanksgiving to God. Praise, worship.
• Nearly 2,000 years after Jacob’s visit from the Lord and his spontaneous tithe, the author of the NT book of Hebrews recounts in chapter 7 how the tithe became standard, a way for one who loved God to honor God as well as a way of funding the Temple and the priesthood.
• These are some of the scriptures that have led the church across generations and millennia to teach the practice of the tithe as the standard giving for the faith practice of the Christian. (The UMC believes that tithing – setting aside of one-tenth of one’s income for God – is a biblical standard for the lives of disciples. The UMC expects its pastors and its members to tithe faithfully.)
• One of the radio stations I listen to is 88.7 WXPN, a member-supported public radio station of the
, and this past week was WXPN’s annual membership drive... They dedicated maybe a quarter of their broadcast time during this drive to tell their listeners about the benefits listeners receive for the free service, and how pledges of even as little as a dollar a day sustain the service. University of Pennsylvania
The tithe is a way a Christian acknowledges that “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it...” Giving a tithe is like paying rent to God for living off his bounty.
• Tithe is personal investment in Great Commission of Matthew 28... If the church is about the business of going into all the world, baptizing and teaching, a person who tithes is saying I’m part of that.
• Tithing is a way of putting trust in the Lord. One time the disciples said to Jesus, Increase our faith. I imagine God saying: "I can think of a way to increase faith... give up some of your resources. I will help you rely not on your own devices but on me... "
• Tithing has the unexpected blessing of increasing joy. As an act of worship there’s an excitement about it, like Jacob when he awoke after his divine visit from the Lord.
• A Christian tithes to demonstrate love for God, to demonstrate that God comes first... "I love you, Lord, you get my firstfruits."
• Look in today's bulletin and you’ll see some 2011 budget info... the annual budget that provides for the mission and ministries of our church as well as our denominational support comes out to about $4400 a week. For most of 2011 we’ve come short of that mark.
The sad truth is, if every member of the church faithfully tithed (gave ten percent of their income), we wouldn’t have a budget deficit, we’d have a surplus.
Something like 5% of American adults tithe, and a Barna report shows that at best overall less than a quarter of Christians tithe (that’d be about 35 of the people in this room right now). Average offering is not even half of that, it’s around 2.5%. FYI I don’t know who does or doesn’t. I tithe & The UMC believes the practice to be biblical and the starting place for Christian giving.
• I invite you to consider tithing, or to commit to step towards tithing. Maybe you're not ready to commit today, okay, take sheet home, talk and pray, talk and pray with trusted friends or with your pastor.
If you are uncomfortable filling sheet out because people will figure out your income, don’t fill in your name. or fill in your name and indicate whether you’re tithing or moving towards tithing.
• I invite you to join me...
• Response to the Word: Financial commitment cards and Offering
Heavenly Father, we acknowledge you as the giver of every good and perfect gift. We praise you for your generosity and kindness toward us. We rejoice over your grace as the basis of your dealings with us. Help us to recognize how blessed we are so that we might be moved by love in serving you. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.