Generosity of Possessions
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”-Hebrews 13:16
When I told my co-worker that we no longer had furniture to sit on in our living room, because our upstairs neighbors had had a toilet overflowing incident that had ruined our futon, I was expecting her just to commiserate with me about difficult neighbors. I was not expecting her to give me her nearly brand new, very comfortable, couch! But that’s what she did. She insisted that she and her husband did not need two couches while Dave and I had none. She looked so happy to be able to help us that I couldn’t say no (plus we really needed a couch). So, we gratefully accepted her generous gift and, we enjoyed it for the better part of a decade. We rested on it, studied on it, slept on it, when the kids came along they delighted in bouncing on it. Often as I sat reading on that couch I would think of my old co-worker, Iftu, and her husband Bedessa. I would think of how kind, and good, and faithful they are, and I would give thanks for the gift of having them in my life, and for the gift of the couch. A couch is a simple gift, but it really did bless our life and express the joyful faith of the people who had gifted it to us.
Do you have extra possession you could use to bless others? Most of us do. I have spent a lot of time in my life thinking about Jesus’ teachings about possessions. I know what He says (“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on Earth…”, “Sell all that you have, give the money to the poor, and follow me.”, “Blessed are the poor” ect). I proclaim Him to be Lord of my life. And yet…..I live in a 2,000+ square foot house that is full of things we don’t really need, and often don’t even use, while 22,000 children die every single day as a result of living in extreme poverty. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to be alone in my unfaithful accumulation and use of possessions: The average American considers themselves to be Christian, has over 300,000 possessions in their 2,100 square foot home, has roughly $5,000 in consumer credit card debt, and gives just 3.5% of their income to charity. All while ½ of the world’s population is living in poverty.
Clearly there are many of us who have chased accumulation of possessions (or identity in them) and ended up straying far from our Good Shepard’s path. We need to hear God when He speaks through the writer of 1 John asking, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17). After we repent of the sin of our unfaithful accumulation and use of possessions what can we do?
First, we should give thanks to God that He has blessed us with an abundance of material resources that we can use to bless others, remembering that ALL that we have is really God’s (“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.”-Psalm 24:1). Next, we should ask God what He would have us do with the possessions He has entrusted to us to build up the Kingdom of Heaven. Then, we must joyfully listen to the Spirt as it directs our faithful use of the possessions God has loaned to us. When we do this several things could happen:
1) We may be asked to sell all our possessions, give the money to the poor, and follow Jesus. This is the instruction Jesus gave to the Rich Young Man of course (Matthew 19:21), and it is a call many Christians have heard and followed throughout the past twenty centuries. More often however we will hear God calling us to sell some of our possessions and give the money to the poor.
2) We may be called to use the material possessions God has entrusted to us to build up his Kingdom without selling them. We may hear the Spirit whisper to us that we should use our car to drive our elderly neighbor to the grocery store every Tuesday. We may hear the Spirit shouting at us to invite a down-on-his-luck relative to move into our guest room for a while. We may hear the Spirit calling us to invite friends and neighbors to use our garden and shop tools whenever they need them. One thing is for certain; we won’t hear silence!
3) God may invite us to enjoy a possession He has entrusted to us, such as I derived real happiness from the couch my friend gave me. God delights in giving us good things. Our faithful response to His lavish generosity should not be to imagine that we have earned what we have, but instead we should acknowledge that everything we have is a gift from God and thank Him for His good gifts!
God, help us to understand that all that we have is Yours. Grant us wisdom to discern how to best use the possessions You have entrusted to us to care for those in need. Help us to give You thanks and praise as we enjoy some of the good gifts you have given us. Amen.
Now Go and Do: Imagine what you can do to care for the poor and spread the Good News with the possessions God has entrusted to you. Commit to using one possession this week to bless someone and build up the Kingdom of God.
Love, Your Generosity Project Team (Adrienne Danielson, Deb Hess, Shari Fuhr and Marlys Mathiowetz)
Vacation Bible School
Bring your friends!
Sunday, June 10 – Thursday, June 14
6:15 – 8:15 p.m.
Evangelical Free Church
– next to Pizza Ranch on Hwy 71-
(Formerly at Redwood Alliance Church downtown)
Ages 4 through 6th grade
There are registration forms in the Narthex or you can speak to Connie Bentson.
Generosity of Talent
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”-Ephesians 2:10
Our church is chalk-full of talented people. Every Christmas I give thanks to God for Gerry Patten’s ability to transform a room, his way of turning our sanctuary into a special place to celebrate the birth of our Savior. A couple weeks ago Dave said to me, as he was picking up a cute little craft Simon had made in Sunday school, “Lindsey is a such a good Sunday school teacher. She always has the kids do fun things.” During worship a few weeks ago, I was moved to tears by the choir’s performance of “Be Thou My Vision”. I could go on and on describing, and giving thanks for, the various talents of the people in this church family. The truth is though (thanks be to God!) every congregation is full of talented people. In fact, every neighborhood, every school, every workplace is full of talented people. God does not create untalented people! We are all “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”. Does this feel true to you? Are you able to see in yourself and in others the unique abilities God gifted to you and to them? Hopefully you are!
Some of us though, are not sure just what “good work” God has created us to do. If you are not yet able to identify your God-given talents take a little time right now to explore what they might be. What are you happiest doing? What are you good at? How do these things intersect with the needs of your family, friends, neighbors, church, community, and the world? Maybe you cannot draw very well but you feel relaxed and satisfied when you are cleaning. Maybe you feel you would not be good at teaching Sunday school, but you do love to sit down and write letters to friends and family members. Is God able to use the satisfaction you get from cleaning and your ability to write thoughtful letters to build up His Kingdom? Absolutely He is! He created you that way. And, He desires for you to use those talents to do “good works”. You could bless an unwell neighbor by taking an afternoon to vacuum, dust and wash windows for her. Perhaps, also, you could use your letter-writing skills to encourage a man or woman in jail who feels forsaken, or a refugee child who feels hopeless (If you would like to do either of these Google “Christian Pen Pals” or “Any Refugee”).
We are all God’s handiwork, created with special abilities and talents. We are all called to use those talents to grow the Kingdom of God. We need only open our minds to our innate abilities, and our eyes to the places in our homes, church, schools, workplaces, community, country, and the world where these abilities can glorify God and heal the broken places in His world.
O Lord, thank you for creating me exactly as you have. Thank you for the special abilities you have granted me. Please give me wisdom to see where I can use these talents for Your purposes, move me to action, and fill me with joy in doing Your work in the way that only I can. Amen.
Now Go and Do: Sit quietly with God for a few minutes. Meditate on the talents and abilities He created you with. Consider how you could use those talents to bless a person or a community. Commit to doing one Kingdom building thing with your talents this week (bake your famous apple pie for a new Mom in the neighborhood, inquire with the county about getting a foster care license so that you can provide respite care to foster families in the area, volunteer to take photos for a local non-profit, etc.).
Love, Your Generosity Project Team (Adrienne Danielson, Deb Hess, Shari Fuhr and Marlys Mathiowetz)
It is a Celebration!
2018 marks 15 years for The Piecemakers!
We had our first meeting on May 21, 2003, and have spent the last 15 years cutting, pinning, tying and sewing. We have shared coffee/treats and stories while putting together quilts for many different occasions. We have had the privilege to make quits many of you have purchased for yourselves or loved ones. We are also humbled to have made many quilts for those sick, hospitalized or just in need of something warm to snuggle.
In honor of 15 wonderful years we are going to raffle a quilt! Chances ($1) will be available to purchase starting March 25. You can purchase them from Char, Marlys or Tina in the office. The quilt will be on display in the Narthex until May 20!
Thank you to all those who have helped us along the way both in your talents! We wouldn’t have had so much fun over the past years without each of you!
The First 150 Years (1867-2017)
We are celebrating our 150th Anniversary all year round but our actual anniversary date is being celebrated on March 26, 10:15 am. Come join us as we are greeted by the Transitional Executive Presbyter of Minnesota Valleys Presbytery, the Rev. Rick Carus of Willmar, the Synod Executive of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, Ruling Elder Elona Street Stewart of Eagan and the Stated Clerk of General Assembly, the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson of Louisville, Kentucky.
Our Parish Associate, the Rev. Pamela Prouty, who is both the Stated Clerk of Minnesota Valleys Presbytery and the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, our Seminary Student Intern Amy Levinski, our Clerk of Session, Ruling Elder Adrienne Danielson, and Ruling Elder Deb Hess, who is Moderator of Minnesota Valleys Presbytery and I will all be leading morning worship.
We will start worship by having the children, choir and worship leaders proceed into the Sanctuary, the children will sing the introit. The Chancel Choir will be singing later in the service. We will honor those that have been members of our church for fifty years or longer. The Rev. J. Herbert Nelson will give the morning message. He is known to be one of the best preachers in our denomination. Following worship we will take a group photo in the sanctuary. Following the picture, we will have a catered roast beef dinner by Baune’s Cafe at 12:15 pm. The dinner is being paid for funds given by a church member for the anniversary celebration. Please sign up for the meal by March 20, so we have enough food on hand. Following the meal we will have a cake reception from 1:30-3:30 pm, for the public. If able please stay around to have fellowship and greet visitors.
In Christ’s love, Pastor Scott Prouty