June 27, 2021
Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15; 2:23-24 Psalm 30 2Corinthians 8:7-15 Mark 5:21-43
“If the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable,” Paul writes to the people in the church in Corinth. He speaks of this gift being “according to what one has – not according to what one does not have.” Many of our members have given to stopping the leaks and repairing the inside of our church. As a result, we now have a new roof, the critical stone work has been repaired, and now the plaster repair and painting is nearly complete. It has been a long process, but one made possible by a grant AND your gifts! By this time next week, the work will be DONE! Thank you.
Of course, then it will time for the next project – the bell tower restoration. Fortunately, we have received another grant to pay for the most critical phase of this project and the second phase of it can be delay. Thus, we will not conduct a capital champaign. We will, instead, use the earnings from the endowment to pay our matching share of this project. We are certainly blessed to have two endowments and for them to be performing so well.
The Apostle Paul, in his letter, was not talking about making contribution to a capital fund drive. What we raised to fix the leaks and restore our building was important for our life together, but Paul’s message goes beyond that of giving to the church. Most importantly, it speaks to a desire to share what we have with others who are in need. He is writes about giving as sharing with others from the abundance of our blessings. In fact, he says he does not mean to give “relief to others and [put] pressure on you.” Instead, he writes what we should seek to do is to create a fair balance between our “present abundance and their needs.” Paul then quotes Exodus, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.” This passage from Exodus is speaking of people gathering the manna, the bread from heaven, that God provided them to eat each day on their journey to the Promised Land.
The manna was their daily bread, and it would not keep overnight. Paul’s reference to this story is a reminder that whatever it is that we have is a gift from God. Whatever we have earned, has been earned using our God-given gifts and talents. Paul’s message is not only to share what we have, but to do so with eagerness. Or, put another way, we are to share willingly from the heart, not out of a sense of obligation or pity.
In the Eucharistic Prayer II from Rite 1, we pray, “And we earnestly desire thy fatherly goodness to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, whereby we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies.” In Rite II, in Eucharistic Prayer B, we pray, “And we offer our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to you, O Lord of all; presenting to you, from your creation this bread and this wine.” Then we pray for God, “to send your Holy Spirit upon these gifts” that we might be united with Christ in his sacrifice and made acceptable through him. Paul speaks of gifts given with eagerness as being acceptable gifts.
The Rite I prayer says we are offering and presenting to God “ourselves, our souls and bodies,” and with God’s help we do so eagerly. In the Rite II prayer, it says we are presenting the bread and wine, “from your creation” – God’s creation. Both prayers acknowledge, that what we have to offer God is from God’s own creation – and this includes us, our souls and bodies. What we give to God by sharing our gifts with others is only a portion of what we have received.
Paul, in his letter, challenges us to achieve balance in our lives. We are thus challenged to balance self-care with care for others. In the gospel reading, after the woman touches his cloak, Jesus turns to the crowd and asks, “Who touched my clothes?” He knew someone had come to him seeking to be healed. He knew because, we are told, Jesus “was aware that power had gone forth from him.” Giving takes something from us, but it also feeds us.
We come to church to be feed. We come, as the woman did, seeking the power of Christ’s love for us and to hear him say to us, “your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” This life we live is full of pain, and pain turns our attention inward. Jesus; however, has love in abundance and is able to give and give and give.
Jesus does; however, go away from the crowd periodically to pray. He does take care of himself. Just as “we remember his death, we remember his resurrection, and we await his coming again in great glory,” we need to follow his example of self-care and come to the altar to receive the gifts of bread and wine in this community of faith.
One of the two great commandments is, after all, to love our neighbors as ourselves. It is not possible to love others as God intends us to love our neighbor if we do not love ourselves. Loving and caring for ourselves helps us love and care for others. We give with eagerness when we experience the abundance of Christ’s love for us and can see ourselves as God created us in God’s own image- an image of pure love.
Let us pray.
Lord God, you are the source of all love. Open our hearts that we might experience the abundance of your love and share it with others. We offer our prayers in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.