Monday, November 17, 2008

Sermon Notes Sunday November 16

Thanks to Rev Mommy, I opened the sermon with a reminder that it is about the money. It is a tough time to talk about money with a radically fluctuating stock market, housing prices down, gas doing roller coaster tricks, jobs falling by the wayside, and stewardship time upon us.

Matthew 25:14-30
reminds us about God's concern for money and how it is used. Jesus talks about money more than any other single topic. But, I am reminded that the most common phrase of the New Testament, which Jesus too brings to bear in his talk, is "Do not fear" or "Fear Not". I choose this day to talk about both - Money and Fear Not.

First: It is someone else's money.
-cf. Enron, Junk Bonds
-We responded pretty strongly when these persons forgot they were dealing with someone else's money.
-Likewise we know that our "hard-earned money" is God's
-We want accountability, and so does God.

Second: How long until we act?
-The servants went out immediately (the first two to invest, the third to bury his share of a talent-3years worth of wages)
-Ojai UMC went out early to invest. We went out to invest in members, facility and a parsonage. We started in 1957, had over 100 members in 1959, a church building with Sunday School, kitchen and offices in 1961, and a parsonage by 1962.
-We continued to invest in our community through the start of the preschool in 1983, and the addition of the fourth building in 1991.
-We need to remember that investing should not stop. There is no retirement in Christian living.

Third: When does the accounting come?
-We don't know when the accounting will come, and this is all the more reason to keep investing.
-It doesn't matter when the accounting comes, as we have all been given something to work with in the way of talents, both in money and in service to God. We need to remember above all else it is about relationships - with God and with each other.

Fourth: We create our own judgments by the fears we live into.
-Therefore we should Live into Expectation, rather than Wait on Wrath.
-Are we living in fear of the Master?
+The third servant claims that the master is harsh, reaping where he does not sow.
+The master does not disabuse the servant of this thought, merely calling him into account for his understanding. [God loves you so much as to let you determine how you want to have relationship with Him-including a harsh or abusive relationship]
-I realized this past election season that I was faced with a lot of fear-mongering. As such I made a stand during the final weeks of the ads and campaigning. I vowed not to vote for any measure, resolution, or candidate who was using fear as the primary means of electioneering.
-I am grateful for this quote, and a quote from Richard Rohr which help me to stem the tide of fear.
-Of course, it helps some that I am counter-phobic. Most people have a Fight, Flight or Freeze response to Fear. I tend toward engagement with the thing which I fear.

At Ojai UMC we have a chance to live. Now we must determine how many talents we have and get busy investing them. There are some assets we have and can name, like the dollars in the bank and endowments, and the buildings we possess, but I need your help in going to the Spiritual Talent banks and finding out what gifts we have to offer. It is hard to invest in the stock market if you cannot say how much you have to invest.

I am reminded of the story of the man who prayed to win the lottery. God told him he needed to "go buy a ticket". Go buy your ticket!

P.S. After the service one of the members said to me, "If you had been of another generation you might have said, 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself.'[FDR] But now it is about 'Hope'."


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