Sunday’s Gospel:  Our Gift Back to God

Sunday’s Gospel:  Our Gift Back to God

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Stewardship Sunday 2015

All that we have is a gift from God, yet all we become, and all we do with what we have received, is our gift back to God!

How many of us would consider ourselves greedy? It may seem like an uncomfortable question, and yet it’s interesting how often Jesus talks about the topic of wealth and money in relation to greed. He didn’t seem to mind making people uncomfortable with the topic. In fact, 16 of his 39 parables dealt with the theme of wealth and possessions – just like in today parable of the “Rich Fool.” Imagine, one out of every 10 verses (288 verses in all) in the Gospels deal with the topic of our treasure.

And obviously Jesus didn’t mind challenging his listeners on this topic! From today’s Gospel, imagine, calling a person a fool who had all the money he would ever need and could retire early. That’s definitely counter-culture. Most of us today would laud a person who could retire early, and consider him or her a great success. And yet Christ calls the person a “fool!”

All that we have is a gift from God, yet all we become, and all we do with what we have received, is our gift back to God!

What were some other things that Christ said about wealth and possessions?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be. (Mt 6:21)

 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.

 No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

 You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.

Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.

 These are just a few of the sayings of Christ on the topic of wealth and possessions, and yet they point to a common emphasis. Take care of not misunderstanding and misusing your possessions and money. All we have is a loan which God has given us, and He wants us to use this loan freely to help others, and in the process to glorify His Name with all we do!

All that we have is a gift from God, yet all we become, and all we do with what we have received, is our gift back to God!

Well, today is our annual STEWARDSHIP SUNDAY, a day when we remember stewardship as a way of life, a constant giving back to God with gratitude from the blessings He has first given us!  And of course, it’s not just about our finances. STEWARDSHIP IS A WAY OF LIVING OUT OUR FAITH!

Let’s begin with our TIME? God gives each of us 24 hours every day as a gift. Do we wake up each day thanking God for this gift of 24 hours, and then do we strive to offer back to God from this most precious gift? How do we offer this gift back to Him? Are we willing to make time in our busy schedules to connect with Him through our spiritual disciplines, to offer our time in serving in various ways at Church, and then to volunteer time in charitable work?

And what about our TALENTS? Each of us have unique gifts from God, and He asks that we use them for others, and for His Church. If we have a good voice, can we sing in the choir? If we are good with accounting, can we become a treasurer of the Church? If we are a good handyman, can we help take care of the upkeep around the church? If we are good with computers, can we develop our website, or help in the service? Or what other talents do we have? Will we offer them for the service of the Church, as well as in volunteer work in the community at large, all for the glory of God?

Then there’s the most difficult question about our TREASURE, OUR FINANCES? According to how God has blessed us, will we support the operation and ministries and outreach of this Church, so that it can continue to grow? We have seen this past year how our Church Family has supported the renovations and new building of our church in a beautiful way! Will we also continue to support the operation of our Church with our stewardship commitment? Will we prayerfully think about how God has blessed each one of us, and then enthusiastically support our Church, so that our Church can reach out to our local as well as our global community with God’s love?

Today, I am asking all of you in the Church to please fill out your stewardship pledge cards, which you can find in the bulletin. Let’s take a few minutes to think and pray about how we will fill out these cards, and as we fill them out, prayerfully reflect upon what your Church and your faith actually means to you.

Make a decision to support the Church in a sincere, joyful, and enthusiastic way as a sign of gratitude to God for all His special blessing!

All that we have is a gift from God, yet all we become, and all we do with what we have received, is our gift back to God!

 

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Fr Luke Veronis

Fr. Luke A. Veronis serves as the Director for the Missions Institute of Orthodox Christianity at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, pastors Sts Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Webster, MA, and teaches as an Adjunct Instructor at both Holy Cross and Hellenic College. He also taught at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (2005-2008). Fr. Luke has been involved in the Orthodox Church’s missionary movement since 1987. Together with his family, he served as a long-term cross-cultural missionary in Albania more than 10 years (1994-2004), and as a short-term missionary in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana for 18 months (1987-91). Since 2010, he teaches a summer missions class which he takes to Albania for two weeks every year. He has led four mission teams from his church to build homes for the desperately poor through Project Mexico. His published books include Go Forth: A Journal of Missions and Resurrection in Albania (2010); Lynette’s Hope: The Witness of Lynette Katherine Hoppe’s Life and Death (2008); and Missionaries, Monks, and Martyrs: Making Disciples of All Nations (1994). Fr. Luke teaches the Preaching course at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, as well as numerous classes in Missiology and World Religions. His weekly sermons since January 2013 can be found at http://www.schwebster.org/sermons/ Fr. Luke is married to Presbytera Faith Veronis, and they have four children.