Tomorrow is Stewardship Dedication Sunday with the third and final sermon in the series on Stewardship as Generosity. Scripture says that “where your treasure is your heart will be also.” In the act of dedicating pledges, as in worship itself, we make the bold proclamation that our hearts are formed in the image of God whose giving knows no end.
For many years, the Deacons at Central Presbyterian Church have organized a Christmas Project that provides an opportunity for the members and friends of Central to help families at Christmastime. This year we plan to help 24 families. This is only possible with the help of members and friends of Central Presbyterian Church.
There are several ways you can be part of a team that helps these families. You can be a team coordinator; making sure every one plays a part and making sure tasks are assigned. You can be a team member; shopping for food or gifts. You may feel unable to shop but want to give a donation. We are happy to have individuals shop and be reimbursed for some or all of the costs depending on your personal resources. You and your family might like to be assigned one family by yourselves. We want everyone to feel that there is an opportunity to participate in this year’s Christmas Project.
There will be sign-up sheets in the Narthex after church next Sunday; however if it is easier to send us an e-mail please do. Please include your name, your phone number, a note saying how you would like to help and any other comments.
Laura Mason (firstname.lastname@example.org) and
Quentin Holmes (email@example.com)
Oregon Brass Quintet featuring UO Student Ensembles will perform a benefit concert co-sponsored by and at the Central Presbyterian Church, 555 E. 15th Ave at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 24th to benefit the work of Opportunity Village. The concert will feature Christmas music and will be free. A suggested donation to the charity is $10
Stewardship is everything we do after we say “I believe.” If the concept of stewardship is about managing another’s (God’s) possessions, then the act of generosity/pledging/offering/
This year is the 500 birthday of John Knox the Scottish reformer who is the father of the Presbyterian Church. As a congregation we have begun ask what the next 5-10 years of ministry may look like if we follow Jesus into the next decade. This Sunday is All Saints Sunday and last Sunday was Reformation Sunday so this is the right time to ask some questions about our faith and its relationship to our practice as a church. Walter Brueggemann shared the following insights into our lectionary passages for this week that I think are insightful.
What would you do if you couldn’t fail? What would you endeavor, dare, or try? What mission would you attempt, what venture would you risk, what great deed would you undertake?
I love these kinds of questions, because they stimulate our thinking, stretch our vision, and stir our imagination. But as much as I love these questions, I think they’re the wrong ones to ask. Because there will be failure. There just will. And if we only dream of doing things we can accomplish without failure, we will either be sorely disappointed or, realizing the naïveté of the question, never try.
So in light of today’s readings, I want to ask another question — similar in nature but perhaps both more realistic and more faithful: What would you do if you knew you might fail and it just didn’t matter? I don’t mean “didn’t matter” in the sense that there would be no cost, or that it would be difficult or disappointing. No, what I mean is, what would you try if the attempt itself was worth it whether it succeeded or not? Or, even more, what would you risk if the ultimate outcome was guaranteed even if your immediate venture failed?
I think that’s a big part of what today’s readings are about. First, in one of the more difficult passages in John, Jesus invites us to imagine that belief in him equates the freedom of the heir rather than the insecurity of a slave (8:35-36). There is a harsh distinction in the ancient world between those who are “in” and those who are “out” of a family and its privileges and future, and Jesus is inviting all of us to claim our inheritance as “children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God” (1:12-13). Because Jesus has secured our place with the Father we are in every way free. Free to venture, to risk, to try … and even to fail, because it is the Son who secures our place, position, and future.
So also in Romans, as Paul declares that we are justified not by works — that is, by our successes or accomplishments — but by grace (3:24). And just as our successes do not earn our place in God’s kingdom neither do our failures disqualify us. As Martin Luther, reading Paul, came to recognize so poignantly, if our salvation depended on our efforts, we would have no cause to hope. For as Paul says, and as each of us knows by experience, we have all sinned and fallen short. But God in Jesus tells us that our identity, worth, and well-being is not determined by our successes and failures but by God’s gift alone. And precisely because salvation is not up to us, but up to God, we are free to do and try and risk all things in the meantime, because whether we succeed or fail, yet God has promised to bring us and all things to a good end.
Still not sure? Then let’s go to Jeremiah. Because in this brief passage the prophet, speaking for God, not only details Israel’s absolute failure to keep the law, but also goes on to declare God’s promise to do for Israel what they could not do for themselves by writing the law on their very hearts, by fashioning in them and through them a people of promise. Moreover, God says that when it comes to their — and our! — sin and failure, God will just plain forget, remembering our sin no more.
So let me ask again: what would you do if failure didn’t matter? What would you endeavor, dare, or try? What mission would you attempt, what venture would you risk, what great deed would you undertake?