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Sermon Notes, September 19th

Grace and Peace-

Today, and for the next couple Sundays, we’ll be talking about Stewardship. Yes, it is the time of our annual pledge drive. And yes, we will be talking with you about- And giving thanks for!! – Your pledge of possession.

But what we will primarily be focusing on is this:

The rhythm of the life of faith- and how and where and why the stewarding of all things, Time, talent, possessions, is basic to that walk.

Think the word “stewardship,” and, I’m betting, the first thing that comes to your mind is Money.  And, I’m betting, like it or not, the first thing your heart wants to do is retreat.

Maybe for some good reasons. Life is hard.

Nonetheless- here’s something Luther said about that:

“People go through three conversions: The conversion of their head, their heart, and Their pocketbook . . . unfortunately, not all at the same time.”

Unfortunately, because you can’t really have one without the other two. Stewardship is Not just about the pocketbook. It’s about the place and shape of the other two. And the other two? They beg for consideration from the pocketbook, from the gift of Possession.

Stewardship isn’t a matter of money, or just of money. It’s a way of seeing the world, a Way we walk in the world, a way we make decisions and think about our priorities, a way We tend to the things we do each day-

A way of saying, this matters, and not that – Or this matters, over that.

Stewardship is the beat of the life of faith.

It’s about the conversion to the realization that we are gifted—that all of life, all that we are, Is gift.

It’s about the conversion to the kind of glorious realization gifted people give. It’s just the Way it works.

And it’s about what is not so much a conversion as a surprise—that as we, the gifted, give- We are given. Gift comes back to us- as Jesus says, Good measure, pressed down, shaken Together, running over, will be put into our “laps.”

And so, this Sunday and the next two, we will be talking about that rhythm, that Conversion, that Surprise—

Gifted, Giving, Given.

First- first in the beat of faith, the very beat we step out on, the very music that calls us, The one thing that forms every other, that activates it all, makes it all worth it, makes it all Is this:

We are a gifted people. Counter to the powerful word that is out there, we don’t choose the life of faith, we don’t Earn what we possess, it’s not our personal choices that save us.

We don’t choose the life of faith:

Faith comes as a gift. Read Paul’s letter to the Romans. It just doesn’t happen apart from the mercy and movement of God.

Where there is faith and hope—God has moved. Where there is not faith, not hope, God is present, calling.

We only speak the life of faith because the words have been spoken to us. We only count on and know the love of Christ because Christ has promised it’s there, and shown us it’s there. We really only come to worship, come to prayer, come to fellowship with the gifted Around us because somewhere, somewhere inside there is a strange whisper that urges Us forward.

We don’t earn what we possess.

A wonderful old song puts it this way:

Back of the loaf is the snowy flour,

and back of the flour is the mill

 And back of the mill is the wheat and the shower,

And the sun and the father’s will.

God is behind all we have, all we possess. The Small Catechism—which can seem kind Of boring, and dull—is actually nothing less than a hymn of caught-of-guard praise when It says:

I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members,my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them.

He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home and family, and Land, animals, and all I have.

God richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life.

Back of the loaf . . . There’s a giver behind the gifts.

It’s not our personal choices that save us.

It’s the love behind the choices.

It’s the grace that moves us to change.

It’s the hand that holds us, as we’re about to go off the ledge.

It’s the mercy that says—You matter. You count.

We are Gifted.

Amen

Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And ev’ry man a scribe by trade:

To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry;

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

Tho’ stretched from sky to sky.