Proper 20B Sermon Notes (2018)

SERMON NOTES — September 30, 2018
Stewardship Emphasis – Week 1 of 4

“As individuals, we may not have enough, but together we have more than enough. Gathered together as a community to share our time, talents, and treasures, we experience the gift of God’s abundance.”
— “Abundance,” from “Stewardship 101,” page 7

Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
— John 10:10b

On Easter morning, God launched a campaign of abundant life. For 2000 years that campaign has been working through the power of the Spirit to heal the powers that lead to death and transform them into powers of abundant life.

It is an ongoing campaign!! In the cross and resurrection we glimpse the final outcome of this campaign, but God’s power of love and forgiveness work much slower than human powers of coercion and force.

As followers of Jesus, you and I are called to join in this campaign. We are called to live in ways that trust in the Good News of abundant life. We are called to be a community that shares our time, talent, and treasures.

What are the things that get in the way of living with faith in abundant life?

  • Making the Good News mostly about abundant life after death and so missing the ways in which God in Jesus has launched a campaign going on around us.
  • Being stuck in tribalism and its scarcity thinking — that there’s only enough for my ‘tribe’

The model of Jesus’ campaign of abundance thinking was the miraculous feeding of the large crowds — one of the few stories in all four Gospels, with Matthew and Mark recording two of them.

Recap that miracle story from John 6 (which was the Gospel Reading nine weeks ago, Proper 12B): a miracle of Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes as abundant for everyone (which goes against the first temptation in the wilderness, by the way, where Satan tempts Jesus to turn stones into bread)? Or is it a miracle of Jesus transforming the human heart of those there that day from scarcity to abundance?

John McCain on the campaign trail to a crowd of his supporters: ‘The Good News is that there are plenty of funds to keep our campaign going. The Bad News is that a lot of those funds are currently in your pockets.’

JFK’s inaugural address, summing up his campaign: “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” — reminiscent of our lead quote on “Abundance”?

Milton Friedman’s refutation of that JFK quote in Capitalism and Freedom (Ronald Reagan’s ‘Bible’ that he carried around with him).

Our task is not to tribalistically follow any of the political campaigns of our day but to do the hard work of discerning where those campaigns might contribute to God’s campaign of abundant life (trusting that God’s Spirit blows through many diverse people to further its work).

What is the measure of the measure of finding God’s campaign of life at work in our world? Today’s Gospel Reading: receiving the little child. Or Matthew 25:40: “And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’” (See this passage as a judgement of nations, not just individuals; for more see Christ the King A.)

We are especially called to live faith in abundance in our church communities, focused on caring for the least in God’s family. The early Christians in Acts 4 lived a radical new paradigm of abundance (“There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need” — Acts 4:34-35) in the face of an Empire based on scarcity thinking.

What are the ways we do this at Lutheran Church of the Savior? [Receive responses. In mind for me is the way LCS lets the African Christian Fellowship use its facility for no rent. End by emphasizing the generosity to the ACF.]

Paul Nuechterlein
Lutheran Church of the Savior
Kalamazoo, MI

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