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Posts Tagged generosity

Matthew 14:13-21 Its What’s For Dinner RSUMC 20140803

breadedfirshNow when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. [NRSV]

How much can 5000 men eat, besides women and children.

I’ve seen some women and children who could eat.

Five Loaves and Two Fish

More like Five rolls and two tenders.

• Not fried, no tarter or seafood sauce. Grilled or salted.
• The number and menu are not the significant part of the story. It is the simplicity of the lunch that is the contrasting point.
• The feast where all were filled was neither a covered-dish nor a trip to Golden Correl. The example of extravagance of abundance is the contrast.

The Heart of the Meal

The focal point is the contrast of what appears to be what we don’t have to having more than we need when God is at the heart of our worship, meal, studies and fellowship.

The world that preaches new and more.

As we come to the table, the meal prepared by disciples and offered to us, through Christ.. points us to what is left us..

Left overs

The meal does not change, the people are transformed.

Homework

Offer more of what we don’t have to God and see how much we have to share…

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Matthew 2:1-12 Wise Men Bring Gifts to Christ 20140105 JUMC

Are these for Jesus or Me?
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,  asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”  When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him;  and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.  They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:  ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'”  Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared.  Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”  When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.  On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. [NRSV]

Christmas Gifts

If you think about how much time we spend thinking about the perfect gifts to give, looking for the best deal, waiting in lines or for the deliveries to arrive, wrapping and transporting our gifts. There is a great deal of investment in every gift, no matter the monitory value of the gift itself.

Do you ever read about Mary and Joseph giving each other gifts? Did the shepherds draw names and play games to see who gets which gift? Do the Maji just find the best deal along the way or at the last moment?

Gift giving can hold many different meanings.

The obligatory gift is an oxymoron. Gifts ought be given of free will and love and not obligation. But if you don’t give someone a gift there is hell to pay in the not giving. Can you imaging only giving gifts to some of your family and not to all of them. What would be the message if you didn’t explain why.

  • Did you run out of money or just didn’t want to spend your resources.
  • “Its not the gift its the love or thought that counts”  But how do you express your thoughts and love? Is it clear to the recipient?
  • Did you run out of time, ideas, opportunity? Could you not make a home-made card from a used piece of paper that expressed your heart?
  • “We can’t buy everyone something” My great-grandmother in her late nineties still bought a bar of soap for every member of her nearly 100 member extended family. “It is something I know you can use, so use it and think of me.”
  • Did you get everyone something, or many somethings, but you gave them what you wanted them to have or to become?
  • Gifts are a tradition: I bought my father Old-Spice Soap-on-a-rope for years just because he seemed to like them on Christmas morning. I was helping him carry some boxes to donate and found three soaps-on-a-rope from the past three years and I got the message.

Gift Giving Is a Tricky Business

What do we learn for the Wise men? Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh 

Wealth, Extravagant Royal spa treatment and Glade Tomb-fresher

Gold has been a standard of exchange and value, beauty and tender for thousands of years. Frankincense comes for the roots of a small shrub that contains trace amounts of fragrant oil and was burning in the palaces of the king Herod daily and made as offerings to their gods without end. Myrrh, smells like dried prunes and was used in preparing a tomb.

  • Gold is completely practical: A gift card.
  • Frankincense: Extravagant Generosity, acknowledging Jesus as true King.
  • Myrrh: A Preparing for Jesus’ death, even at his birth. Telling the whole story
  • The Star-watching Travelers Journey: You have to leave home, journey in faith and uncertainty, and follow the signs you have.

Reframing our Gift Giving Practice

If you take a painting or photo and removed it from the frame and mat and exchange the boundaries, you will see the image in a new way with new meaning.

So go with the same gifts we have given: What if we connected why we give the gift with the hope we have for the gift.

“I gave you this tie, because I want you to look your best, feel confident and want you to think of our love when you wear it.”

Is that what you meant the gift to be? or did you just need something to go with a shirt.

“I gave you this game, because I want you to know joy and to share time at home playing with me. I want to spend more time being with you.”

Is that what you meant the gift to say? of did you just know they were hinting like crazy for that game.

“I gave you this vacuum cleaner because I am unimaginative but I do like a clean house and I want it to be easier on me to keep the floor and our home clean for you.”

Is that what you meant to gift to do? of did you just know the old one blew out and you needed a new one anyway.

Keep the Magi Model in mind:

Not just with Christmas gift, but all gives, seasonal, birthday and church gifts..

Practical AND Extravagant AND with a Purpose, Explained.

So Now You Tell Me..

So John, why didn’t you tell us this before Christmas. I don’t have a great answer but I will say: It is never to late to explain our gifts.

Don’t assume the message is conveyed that you hoped for the person. Tell them.

Finally. . be known as doing all three parts in your giving

Practical AND Extravagent AND with a Purpose, Explained.

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Luke 17.11-19 “Thank You Jesus” JUMC 20131013

Blues Thank YouOn the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.” [NRSV]

We Know about the 9

So often I hear folks beat up the nine who didn’t return to thank Jesus, but fussing at them does not motive you and me to be more appreciative toward Jesus.

Let’s learn from the good example. (Its the different from loving the narrow path toward heaven rather than scaring people through a trail to hell, if you know what i mean.)

Look at the one who comes back to say thank you.

Learn from the one who is Thankful

I’m not as good about thank you notes as I should be but I certainly am blessed when I receive one.

I bring it up not to guilt you nor me into writing notes and sending cards that are due to write

Instead take a moment to think about the amount of time it takes

It takes being ready to say thank you.

Member of one church a woman carried in her purse and backup in her car a mini halmark store of cards.

Most where even home-made or even bulk ordered but she was ready to share appreciation and thoughtfulness.

We need to be ready to say thank you, so here is a song to etch into your heart..

I Thank You Jesus: written by Kenneth Morris)

Verse 1:
(I thank You, Jesus) I thank You, Jesus.
(I thank You, Jesus) I thank You, Jesus.
I thank You, Jesus, I thank You Lord,
oh, You’ve brought, yes you brought me from a mighty,
a mighty long way, a mighty long way.

(I thank You, Jesus) I thank You, Jesus,
(I thank You, Jesus) I thank You, Jesus,
I thank You, Jesus, I thank You Lord;
oh, You’ve brought, yes you brought me from a mighty,
a mighty long way, a mighty long way.

(You’ve been my mother) You’ve been my mother,
(You’ve been my father) You’ve been my father,
You’ve been my sister, my brother too;
oh, You’ve brought, yes you brought me from a mighty,
a mighty long way, a mighty long way.

(You’ve been my doctor) You’ve been my doctor,
(You’ve been my lawyer) You’ve been my lawyer,
You’ve been my teacher, my friend indeed;
oh, You’ve brought me from a mighty,
a mighty long way,
a mighty long way.

(You’ve been my bread) You’ve been my bread,
(You’ve been my water) You’ve been my water,
You’ve been my life, my everything,
oh, You’ve brought, yes you brought me from a mighty,
a mighty long way, a mighty long way.

(You’ve been my bread) You’ve been my bread,
(You’ve been my water) You’ve been my water,
You’ve been my life, my everything,
oh, You’ve brought, yes you brought me from a mighty,
a mighty long way, a mighty long way.

(I thank You, Jesus) I thank You, Jesus.
(I thank You, Jesus) I thank You, Jesus.
I thank You, Jesus, I thank You Lord,
oh, You’ve brought, yes you brought me from a mighty,
a mighty long way, a mighty long way

Now that you are ready, go to your knees

Not that our knees area as strong as they might once have been,

The one who returns, is able to put together a response that is in context..

I thank you for what no one else could do.

This is our response of faith and gratitude.

We are beginning our stewardship journey this week

Begin to think and pray about what God has and is doing in your life and in the world.

More Muslims have become Christians in the past ten years than in the previous 1600 years.

For all the division and stalemate, we will learn to trust God rather than our government for direction and salvation

We are the lepers, we need healing and someone to declares that we are included in the community of faith..

Go and tell how Christ is loving, saving and blessing us and world right now.

Stewardship that is extravagant and generous begins in being thankful.

Thank you, Jesus… my savior God

For you brought me a mighty long way… sing it, live it. show it.

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