A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Sermon (October 5) by Rev. Cheryl Foulk - Living Generously: Who Is the Boss?

Last week in the first video we met the Donovan family :  Frank and his wife Cassie, and their children, Megan and Evan. From all appearances, Frank and his family enjoy a comfortable life style.  At a recent dinner party, Frank was shocked by his young son's generosity.  Evan, on his own, gave away  his favorite toy airplane to another child. It was a spontaneous gift from the heart! Seeing his son's action has caused Frank to re-examine  his own attitudes toward giving.

Today, the story continues. Frank has a dream where he is the defendant in a courtroom.  Let's find out what the charges are against him.

[Here is the link to this video. Use the password, rhemedia to access the video.] 

Dreams can certainly wake us up !  Frank is struggling with what has meaning for him.  In the courtroom dream we heard  from three witnesses : his Money (very well groomed),  his Giving (short of stature), and his Spending (well fed).

Considering his life, what can we say about Frank?

Frank has worked hard and accumulated wealth; he has provided well for his family, plus looking out for their future.

Thru the companies he owns, Frank also provides jobs and income for other families.

However Frank  didn't believe he  could ever have enough money– he had previously shared with his adviser that he wanted him to double his future worth.

Frank gave to a church and to charities, but these were just  line items to him. His heart was not in it.

One of the main charges against him: he did not include God in his financial decisions.  Frank calls the shots on his own. He didn't understand  that God is the greatest Giver . Every part of our lives should reflect our faith. Our calendars and our checkbooks reveal what is important to us.

 Frank was pulled by the power of his possessions and position so that he forgot what sustains his soul.  Is he guilty of not loving God in all his actions?

There is some of Frank in each of us. As his lawyer aptly put it, we love the bread more than we love the baker.

On this World Communion Sunday, I am thinking of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.

Some years ago I went to a mountain village outside  Monterrey, Mexico  on a mission trip .Village had little resources. We worked with a  small  Methodist church helping them to build a cistern so they would have  water. At the end of the week, the people of the church wanted to thank us  and so they prepared a dessert . No one had all the ingredients needed- so between the families, they brought the needed eggs,  milk, the sugar to make a custard.  No one had enough dishes to serve us- together they brought  a spoon, a saucer, whatever they had, a few items from each family. It took the whole church to make that one dessert.

They were so pleased when we gathered around a table and they offered us the pans of custard. Remarkably,they did not expect any for themselves.  I don't think that I will ever match their generosity or their hospitality in my own actions; it remains a model in my heart. It is not about how much you have, but how you respond in love  with what you do have.

We are  managers of God's gifts, and we make the decisions about what happens to our blessings: how they are spent, saved, or shared.  Our time, our resources, our compassion, our talents-We are “the boss”

We make choices and set our priorities ; hopefully our decisions will bring abundant life to ourselves and to others. When we strive to love God with all that we are and our neighbor as ourselves,  our choices will reflect God's generosity.

Next week we will see how Frank continues to grow in his outlook toward giving.

May  our hearts be  so full of God's love  so that when we  share  our abundance with others,  we will give  the best of what we have and who we are.

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