A sermon given during the 6pm Choral Evensong, by The Right Rev’d Chris McLeod, on the 23rd of October 2022
Sermon – Giving
Text Luke 18: 31 – 43
In this evening’s New Testament lesson, we are confronted again with the Jesus who responds to need. The blind man was ordered to be quiet. He was being a nuisance; perhaps an embarrassment, but that did not stop Jesus. Jesus healed him and restored his sight, anyway. For you see our God is a God who responds to need and gives.
I am always confronted by the generosity and graciousness of God in Jesus. We have a God who gives freely. The first part of the reading alludes to the father who will ultimately give up his Son to be tortured and crucified.; all for us The ultimate act of loving and giving.
Over the next few weeks, we are focussing on Giving. Financial giving, yes, I make no apologies for that, but also the giving over of ourselves in like sacrifice to the Son. This is what we mean in the BCP prayer following the Lord’s Prayer in the Order of Holy Communion: ‘And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls, and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto thee … In short, we give ourselves and all we have to God. All we have belongs to God. This can be a challenging thought for us in the contemporary world. We tend to regard ourselves and our belongings, including our money, as the benefits of what we have earnt and deserve. However, we should recognise that in fact God gives us everything in the first place. God created the world and its resources and has allowed us to enjoy them. So, how do I regard giving?
- Giving as a response to God’s love
That classic text which we all know so well provides a clue: John 3: 16 – God so LOVED the world that he GAVE his only Son … Here we find the combination of loving and giving. If we love something, then we give. We give love; we receive love. This is the character of the loving God we worship. It is a call to us to imitate this God in our own giving and receiving of love.
- We give in response to this love
We give to the church’s ministry not out of compulsion, but out of love. We love God’s people – the Church – so we give. Paul reminds the Corinthians, ‘God loves a cheerful giver …’ (2 Cor 9: 7). What we ask from people when we ask them to give is that they do so out of love, not beyond their means or under sort of bullying compulsion and threat. We want your gift to be like God’s gift, freely given.
- How do we offer our loving giving
- Service – The Cathedral is full of people who serve. We serve through our vocations whether we be bishop, priest, doctor, lawyer, teacher, or home maker. We serve God by offering our services to our family, community, and church.
- Time – We give of our time, not because we must but because we want to. The Cathedral runs off the sacrificial offering of time by so many people in so many ways through being Altar Servers, Readers, Stewards, Tour Guides, Welcomers, in the Cathedral Shop … The list goes on!
- Talents – The last point is so closely linked to this one. We have so many talented people here at the Cathedral. I look at the choir and I see the rich talents they offer and freely given!
- Money – We need to mention money because the Cathedral’s ministry needs this as well. To have an effective and well-resourced ministry in the Cathedral we need money. We are encouraging each one of you to consider and pray over the level of your financial giving. We haven’t been challenged about this in some time. All I ask of you and me is that we pray about our level giving. Can I raise it or am I doing the best I can. Think over your giving. In a few weeks there will be a response card for you to fill. It may be that you are new to the Cathedral community, and this will be an opportunity for you to think about making a regular financial giving to the life of the Cathedral.
Our response to giving reflects the God who we worship. He gave so we can receive. We give in service of him.