Double Your Investment
|Maybe money’s on my mind. It is tax time, after all. Surveying income and expenses from 2019. Sussing out solar panel possibilities. Investment or debt? Current actions are a down payment on the future. Where do we put our money, our time, our hope?|
When I read Isaiah 58, I hear promises and affirmation. Increasing our giving in 2020. To ministries that feed, house, educate and empower. This yields divine dividends. Allows more light to shine.
if you open your heart to the hungry,
and provide abundantly for those who are afflicted,
your light will shine in the darkness,
and your gloom will be like the noon.
The Lord will guide you continually
and provide for you, even in parched places.
Isaiah 58:10-11a (CEB)
The blessings are there. Provision. Despite dry times. But Scripture is not simply a pat on the back. It isn’t all name it and claim it. Sometimes it calls us out. If we are willing to listen.
Jesus admonishes the educated leaders for elevating cultural religious traditions over God’s commandments. Rather than honoring father and mother, spiritual people could tell their parents, “Everything that I’m expected to contribute to you is a gift I’m giving to God.” (Mark 7:11) Jesus uses this example when his disciples were criticized for eating without proper hand-washing.
“In this way you do away with God’s word in favor of the rules handed down to you, which you pass on to others. And you do a lot of other things just like that.” Mk 7:13 (CEB)
What are the traditions, cultural and religious, that have been passed down to us? That we accept and propagate, without examining how they contradict God’s commands. We, too, can be blind to the culture of our congregation. Particularly, in a non-denominational American Christian context. How habits interfere with our worship. Our fellowship. Our witness.
stop doing whatever you want on my holy day,
and consider the Sabbath a delight,
sacred to the Lord, honored,
and honor it instead of doing things your way,
seeking what you want and doing business as usual,
then you will take delight in the Lord.
Isaiah 58:13b-14a (CEB)
We go to church when we feel like it. We roll in and roll out as suits our schedule. We pray if we have time. Or feel desperate. We take pride in doing things our own way. Sundays and any other day. We put the minimum time required to get the job done.
I struggle to understand prayer. I don’t get why it works. Sometimes it’s problematic. A cloak for gossip and breaches of confidentiality. But the metaphor of a matching grant makes some sense to me. God is at work. Jesus wants to heal. But we have to put up our part. Our time. Our effort. Our passion. For God to match it. And multiply it.
Where do I want to invest? How might I shift from doing whatever I want on the Sabbath, to honoring it for the Lord? What traditions might best be let go? Or culture changed to align with God’s commandments?
As we offer ourselves to be changed,
May we be called Mender of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Livable Streets.
Order of Service: 2/9
Sermon: Origin Stories: the Author’s Passion (in Hebrews)