Text: Luke 23:33-43
Dawn Lindberg writes a sermon reminding the person that they have been given a gift, Jesus Christ. It is because of this gift that we have all we need. Since we are taken care of and provided for, we can give freely to those who are in need.
Since God Takes Care of Me
Text: Luke 23:33-43
Given: November 25, 2007
How did you spend your weekend? After the turkey was eaten up, were you off to the stores early Friday morning? And now do you have your Christmas shopping done? I mean it's 3 days after Thanksgiving...surely you should have your shopping done by now!
Doesn't it seem like we're ready to rush on by everything and get to Christmas. Christmas music has been playing in the stores for weeks now. And Santa will be here in 29 days. You're getting behind if you think that it's not time for Christmas.
Our culture tells us a lot. It tells us when to do things, where to go, and how to spend our money, especially how to spend our money. But then you come to church and you're brought back to the story of Jesus dying on the cross. How can we talk about Jesus on the cross when we're getting ready for Jesus in the manger? It's because this is the end of the church year and with the end church year comes the end of Jesus' story. However, I like to think about how today we hear the point of the birth story, the birth story we will soon be hearing. Before we get started with Baby Jesus, we're reminded that Baby Jesus was born for a reason. And that reason? Jesus would become the greatest offering ever received.
I recently heard a story about one pastor's granddaughter. She had just gotten home from church and she ran up to her bedroom and grabbed her piggy bank down from a shelf. She went over to her bed and dumped out all of the money. Then she went through and sorted it neatly into 12 piles of money. Taking the money, she started stuffing it in her offering envelopes. As she was doing this, her mother entered the room and saw what she was doing. The envelopes had been stuffed so full she couldn't even lick them shut. She had put all of her money into the offering envelopes. Then her mother asked her, "That is very generous but don't you want to keep some of the money for yourself?" Thinking for only a few seconds she replied, "I don't need it, you'll take care of me."
Isn't it amazing how generous you can be when you know you're taken care of? It truly is...it is amazing how generous you can be when you know you're taken care of.
Each day we wake up believing that God will take care of us. We believe in the story of how God saved us when he sent his Son to die on a cross. But so rarely are we willing to act like this little girl. So rarely are we willing to say I don't need it, God will take care of me. This isn't a call to sell everything and wander the streets, but it is a call to give up everything, to give up our whole lives. It's about listening to the promises of Christ that remind us that we can give generously because Christ first gave generously to us. It's a call to give because we are taken care of.
It's tough to have the faith of a child and it's even more difficult to let go of the worries. But as we look forward with hearts full of thanks, we need to remember how to use the financial resources we have been given.
So as you look forward to the Christmas season, how much will you spend on gifts? And how much will you give to God? Do you give to God as much as you give to those around you? Do you give double? And how will you spend your money? Will you be profiting corporate giants like Wal-Mart or Macy's? Or will you think about where you spend your money so that it benefits the people who made the products or even goes directly to help people in need?
We are surrounded with ways to share with God. In fact next week we are given an opportunity to do just that. We'll be having an alternative giving fair right here at Our Savior's and this is a great chance to see many of the ways we can give to people in our community and people around the world...ways to give to the work of God. All of God's people need to be cared for, and this is an opportunity for you to care for others as God has cared for you.
Yet, sometimes it is difficult to see how God uses our generosity. We think about the overhead costs but we forget how God multiplies our gifts...gifts that are multiplied in places like Uganda. There is a woman, Mrs. Bumbo that has been able to care for her family, two orphans and even her community with the gift of one pregnant dairy cow from Heifer International. We think about one cow and it seems like such a small gift. My father has a whole herd of cattle at home. But this woman was able to multiply this gift. After the calf was born and big enough to be passed on, Mrs. Bumbo gave the calf to a family in need. She was also able to sell other calves that were born to use as income for her family. But these weren't the only ways that she shared her gift. With the milk producing cow that she was given she not only fed her own 4 children but she also able to take on two boys whose parents had died from AIDS. It was with the help of the milk that she was able to help nurse the boys back to health. But then knowing she would need to educate these orphan boys as well she helped start a school for 30 children in the area. And to top that all off she fixes breakfast for the children each morning using milk from her cow. All of this was made possible because of one cow.
It is through the work of organizations like Heifer International, the Salvation Army, and Lutheran Social Services that remind us of how God multiplies our gifts. God has provided us with so many wonderful resources. In Colossians we hear that "all things have been created through Christ and for Christ." And it is because of Christ that we can be so generous.
As we hear Christ's story on the cross, I hope that we can hear the ways in which each of us have been loved and cared for by our Savior. He suffered as he was crucified so that we wouldn't have to. He was generous in unbelievable ways, so that we also could be. It's amazing how generous you can be when you know you're taken care of.
Hanging on a cross, the criminal said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And Jesus replied, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me." Jesus takes care of us, all of us. He always has and always will. Never forget that generous gift. Amen.
A paper bag filled with the following:
o a dollar bill
o apple (or another symbol of food),
o keys (house/car),
o stuffed animal (represent a pet),
o a cross
An Offering Plate
1. Welcome the children to the front of the church. Ask the children how their Thanksgiving was. What are they thankful for?
2. "I am thankful for many things and I'd like to share some of those things with you today."
3. Reach in the bag and pull out the money. Say: "I'm thankful for money. It helps me to buy things like food and new clothes. I really like money and I'm really thankful for money but it's also important to share the things I'm thankful for. I wonder how we might share or offer the money to God and God's people.
4. Child says, "Put in the offering plate." Or you can suggest putting it in the offering plate. Have a child place the money in the offering plate.
5. Grab out something else from the bag. Have the children identify the item and have them talk about how they might share those things which they are thankful for. For example: food-share with the hungry, keys-help drive someone somewhere or welcome someone into your home, stuffed animal-share your pet with someone.
6. Grab the cross out of the bag. "What is this?"
7. "The cross helps us remember what God offers us. What does the cross remind you of? Today we are going to hear a story about how Jesus, God's son, who died on the cross and he did this for each one of us. This was the greatest gift God ever offered us. That's something we can be really thankful for. And to show our thanks, we can share all of the things God has given us, like our money and our food and even our pets. Isn't it great that God has shared so many wonderful things with us? I hope you will share everything God has given you too. Thanks for coming up today."
Dawn Lindberg will graduate from Luther Seminary with a Master of Divinity in 2009.