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Category Archives: Sermons

Stewardship of Creation

This Lenten season, we are focusing on Holistic Stewardship, which is:
the good management of financial/material resources and our time, energy, and talents to care for, love, and serve our neighbors, all people, and the entire creation for the sake of God’s realm that is here, near, and not yet fulfilled (see 1 Corinthians 4:1-2).

Temple Talk (Sunday, April 7)
We conclude our “Temple Talks” on Holistic Stewardship this morning.
Again, Holistic Stewardship is the management of our financial resources, time, energy, and talents for the sake of all people, the creation, and God’s name.

We conclude with the first gift humankind was given and called to steward: the Creation.

Recently, I was speaking with a young niece who told me that they had learned about the planets at school. I asked her, “what planet is your favorite”.

She thought a moment before answering “earth”.

The reality is that our galaxy, our solar system, and our planet are quite spectacular. These are amazing gifts. The earth with its plants, animals, and resource are the responsibility of humankind to care for, to protect, to love, and to serve. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2019 in Sermons

 

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New Creations & Perfume

I have been called a unicorn, a mythic creature that does not exist.

But, if I am a mythical creature, I do not want to be a unicorn.
I would rather be a Phoenix.

You can blame it on me raised in the Phoenix valley, but that is not the whole of it

The Phoenix, according to legend, self-combusts into flames but is re-created from the ashes stronger, better, more powerful than it was before.

THAT is the purpose of Lent and it is a theme throughout our scriptures this morning.

Our scriptures are about change with the old being undone and cast aside in order for new birth and a new creation.

Be honest, change can be intimidating especially as we grow older and become comfortable in our lives, our sense of security, and aware of expectations.

But, our scriptures tell us ‘toss it away because something new is happening’. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2019 in Sermons

 

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The Prodigal Father

The “Prodigal Son” is scripture that is well-known, which is easy and challenging to preach. It is easy to preach because well all know it and yet challenging to find new ways to share it.

The “Prodigal Son” is about a father with two sons, but the younger son says:
“Peace. I am outta here” and runs away.

However, the parable is deeper than it may first appear.

The younger son did ask for his inheritance, which we may consider self-centered, rude, and disrespectful. Yet, if placed into the historical context of the parable it proves to be an essential piece to the puzzle. If a child asked for their inheritance prior to the father’s death, they were stating “I wish you were dead and you are dead to me”. Thus, it breaks the parent-child relationship completely.

The younger son has shattered the parent-child relationship.

The elder son, however, continues to live into his duties and responsibilities as son. He stays home. He takes care of the farm. He manages the hired hands and slaves. He does his father’s bidding without disobeying.

We often desire to place ourselves into the parables, thus we seek to relate to the elder son or the younger son. But, we need to recall the situation.  Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2019 in Sermons

 

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Time, Energy, & Talent Stewardship

This Lenten season, we are focusing on Holistic Stewardship, which is:
the good management of financial/material resources and
our time, energy, and talents to care for, love, and serve
our neighbors, all people, and the entire creation
for the sake of God’s realm that is here, near, and not yet fulfilled

(see 1 Corinthians 4:1-2).

Temple Talk (3-24):
Holistic Stewardship, again, is the management of our whole lives and being:
financial means, time, energy, and talents in order to care for, love, and serve all people, all creation, and God.

On Saint Patrick’s Day, I shared that we are called to give financially as our hearts are so called to do without threat, compulsion, or dreaded obligation; thus, we are called to be ‘cheerful givers’. But, we also are not called to be leprechauns, who are obsessed with collecting and hoarding their gold.

Similarly, we are called to give of our time, our energy, and our talents as we are able and our hearts are called to do so for the sake of God’s work, will, and realm.

We are called to give freely of ourselves Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2019 in Sermons

 

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Financial Stewardship

This Lenten season, we are focusing on Holistic Stewardship, which is:
the good management of financial/material resources and our time, energy, and talents to care for, love, and serve our neighbors, all people, and the entire creation for the sake of God’s realm that is here, near, and not yet fulfilled (see 1 Corinthians 4:1-2).

Temple Talk (Sun., 17 March 2019): 
Holistic Stewardship is not limited to, but does include, our management of our financial and material resources. This is perhaps the most awkward and challenging of the stewardship topics.

Financial stewardship can sound ‘business’ like for the church is similar to our businesses and our homes, for the church as a budget that requires income to cover our responsibilities and to support our ministries within and outside of these walls.

BUT, financial stewardship is also biblical and spiritual.
Scripture teaches of a tithe, or literally one-tenth of EVERYTHING for the sake of God’s people, will, and realm. The tithe was and is intended to provide for all who had not been given a piece of the physical ‘Promised Land’, who are the Levite priests, the widow, the orphan, and even the alien/foreigner who resides among us. In essence, those who are in the most need and are the “least of these”.

But, scripture also instructs us to give as our hearts are so called to give and thus not by force, threat, compulsion, or a dread sense of obligation. It is referred to as being a “cheerful giver” (see 2 Corinthians 9: 6-8).

However, we are NOT called to be like leprechauns who are obsessed with the collecting, hoarding, and protecting of their gold. According to the National Leprechaun Museum in Dublin (Ireland), the leprechauns are tricksters who will by any means possible seek to keep hoarding their gold for themselves.

So, on this Saint Patrick’s Day, I encourage us to not be like leprechauns.

I do encourage us to discern our needs verse our wants, in order to wisely discern our management of financial and material means for the sake of caring for, loving, and serving our neighbors, the creation, and God alike. Amen.

Mid-Week Reflection (Wed., 20 March 2019)
The stewardship of our financial and material resources seem to dominate discussions of holistic stewardship.

Financial stewardship is awkward and challenging, perhaps because it is to discuss two potentially uncomfortable topics: Money and Faith.

Although financial stewardship is biblically rooted in instructions for offerings, including a tithe, our emphasis on it is basically distinctive to America.

Wait, what?

Let me explain.
European countries have historically collected a “church tax”. The tax payer has been permitted to decide if it will support the Roman Catholic or the Protestant churches, with increasing religious pluralism I hope the options have increased as well. This “church tax” financial supports the congregational budgets, maintaining the buildings, the clergy, their services, and their ministries despite the low attendance.

Our separation of Church and State prevents a “church tax” from being collected. Thus, our congregations and denominations had and continue to return to scripture, the teaching of tithing, and emphasizing stewardship for the financial support of congregational budgets, maintaining the buildings, the clergy, our services, and our ministries for the sake of God’s work, will, and realm, where all people and creation are cared for, loved, and served.

But, this also enables us to be ‘cheerful givers’, who search our hearts, discern our financial situations, and give without compulsion; thus, participating freely in God’s work in this time and place.

However, the financial stewardship discussion should not be limited to the funds we give to the church and/or charities. It also should include how we manage the use of all material resources and spending of all financial resources. For example:

Where do you shop and eat?

  • what are their business practices?
  • how do they treat their employees?
  • how do they support the local community/communities?

Because, ultimately your business supports their business practices, treatment of employees, and support of the local community/communities.

So, how are you using your financial and material resources?

Are you mindful of how it affects your neighbor? humankind? creation?

Are you mindful of how it supports or distracts from God’s work, will, and reign?

May we be mindful about our management of financial and material resources
for the sake of all people and creation. Amen.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2019 in Sermons

 

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St. Patrick & Gathered In

On this day, the entire world celebrates Saint Patrick’s Day.
It is especially celebrated in the United States as a day of Irish Pride.
Although there are historical reasons for that, today I lift Saint Patrick up as an example of Christian witness… and his story closely matches with the scriptures.

Our scriptures echo human distress and pain:
emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.

Our scriptures also echo human lamenting, or deep cries, to God.
God not only is able to handle our laments, but desires these because it signifies an intimate relationship and holds God accountable to God’s promises.

Our gospel is Jesus aware of and being warned of the danger that awaits in Jerusalem including his arrest, passion, crucifixion, and death. After all, Jesus is a prophet and that is the fate of the prophets.

Jesus, however, would not be deterred (distracted) from his mission/ministry:
to heal, to release, to forgive, to love, to serve, and to gather ALL people/creation
into God’s protective and maternal love, like that mother hen.

But, what does this have to do with Saint Patrick?

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2019 in Sermons

 

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Why Lent

Confession: Lent is my favorite season.

It is not because I enjoy suffering or even sober events.
It is, however, because it is honest and authentic.

We are beautifully flawed and broken people, who live among beautifully flawed and broken people in a beautifully flawed and broken creation. Our flaws, our brokenness, and those of others and the creation separate us from one another, from neighbor, and from God.

Ash Wednesday humbly reminded us that we, our neighbors, and all of creation are temporary. It all was created from ash/dust and to ash/dust it will all return.

As a girl from the ‘Valley of the Sun’, I am aware that the phoenix dies, becomes ash, then rises again stronger than before. Similarly, we (as individuals, communities, and institutions) are called to die, to become ashes, to rise by the grace of God stronger and further shaped into the one that God has called us each to be.

THIS is the work of Lent.
It is about becoming aware of the distractions
that separate us from God and neighbor…

in order for vulnerable soul-searching…

in order for uncomfortable ‘Come to Jesus’ moments…

in order to return our attention to the cross, to Jesus the Christ,
and to the Triune God…

in order that we may be reconciled and reconnected to God and neighbor alike. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2019 in Sermons

 

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