Archive for October 30th, 2011
34:1 Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho, and the LORD showed him the whole land: Gilead as far as Dan, 2 all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, 3 the Negeb, and the Plain — that is, the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees — as far as Zoar. 4 The LORD said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.” 5 Then Moses, the servant of the LORD, died there in the land of Moab, at the Lord’s command. 6 He was buried in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor, but no one knows his burial place to this day. 7 Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his sight was unimpaired and his vigor had not abated. 8 The Israelites wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the period of mourning for Moses was ended. 9 Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands on him; and the Israelites obeyed him, doing as the LORD had commanded Moses. 10 Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face. 11 He was unequaled for all the signs and wonders that the LORD sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land, 12 and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel. ~NRSV
I would guess that you may never have heard this passage as a stewardship text for a sermon, but it may very well be at the core of the practical side of our generosity.
Our fifth fruit as a faithful congregation is to be extravagant with our generosity.
Look at this text from God concerning Moses:
God takes Moses to a high mountain, Mt Nebo. It is a snow covered mountain. It is this snow that melts into the mountain and feeds the spring that becomes the Jordan river. It touches all the land from that point southward to the dead sea. It is the life giving water that waters the palms, the fish, the honey bees, the fish and the people.
From this vantage point Moses is shown the Mediterranean sea, the dessert to the east, the futile lands down the gordon valley all the way to the palms of Jericho in the south to the dead sea.
Like Simba in Disney’s Lion king, Moses is taken to his pride rock by his father Mufasa . Both God and Mufasa say basically the same line: “All that the light touches is our home.”
Moses sees the promised land with his own eyes. He has devoted forty years of not only leading but living with the people of God to reach this moment.
But Moses was not to set foot in it.
The Most extravagant gift is one that is shared and we receive nothing in return.
Here is a risky statement. Are you ready.
A gift that is reciprocated at some level is a balance paid and not a gift nor a choice.
A gift that is followed with something other than our life, is not a gift at all.
Our society is blind with getting a return on our investment. Getting a prize in box of Cracker Jacks, because the treat itself is not enough.
The new commercial for Coke Zero, teaches us to ask for our preverbal cake and the opportunity to eat it, because it wouldn’t be our party if we didn’t get our due.
This is our model of a human being EXTRAVAGANT GENEROSITY:
Moses orphaned, raised in a foreign culture. left his home land, married into another foreign culture, finds a happy life and is asked to leave his home to rescue the people who had made him an orphan in the first place. He leaves the ease of his home and business to devote forty years to leading a grumping and grumbling people through the dessert in search of a place that he only allowed to view and not claim for himself…
And there.. is the Stewardship heart of the text: It was not Moses’ to claim.
It was not Moses’ land. It was God’s place for God’s people.
Earlier Moses had gone to God when the people were without water, thirsting to death, and God sent Moses to speak before the people where God would provide water.
Moses did as commanded, but nothing happened, so he struck the rock, and did it again..and the water flowed. God was faithful, but Moses took the responsibility of God.
In that act of striking the rock instead of speaking Gods words, Moses gave witness of doubt. Rather than wait for God to provide, Moses took matters into his own hand, his own fear, failure, responsibility, work: and hit the rock, his rock of pride.
That story has been right there all these years and we usually focus on what appears to be an injustice.
It is that injustice, our thinking that what we have is “ours” that we loose our selves instead of finding who and whose we truly are.
Instead of injustice or waste, it is God’s continual and final word of Grace that Moses had extravagantly given himself TO GOD and GODS SERVICE, there was no exchange for it. Moses was at the same place at the day of his birth, claimed and love as one of God’s people.
So here we step closer to making our own affirmation of faith.
We may not see the end, but we are a vital part of the beginning of a new work.
It is a selfless gift to give because God shows us a need and we gain nothing from it.
.. feeding someone at Thanksgiving because we feed a warm glow in the recipients face vs. knowing God is working through us, to feed more than someone’s belly or tradition.
November 13 will be our commitment Sunday. We will be asking each individual to sign a commitment as a family or home to put Jesus Christ first. This will be a covenant service. We will bring these to worship and offer them to God as we prepare for a new year of ministry together.