Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
12:00pm Fellowship
Pastor Rev. Brooke Newell
Secretary Donna McDonald
315-265-7474

November 13th, 2011:

Use It or Lose It
Call:           Judges 4: 1-9
Text:           Matthew 25: 14-30
Read:   1 Thessalonians

Use It Or Lose It

If I had thought of this ahead of time,
I would have put blank index cards into each bulletin
And then, at this point in the service
        I would have asked you to define the word, "doxology"
                In writing              On the card

I would tell you that doxology is not the study of
"Docs"  "docks" or      "ducts"         ["ducks"]

And I would also tell you that writing,
        "The song or chorus that we sing after the offering"
would not be an acceptable answer.

It would be an accurate statement, but not a definition
For such an answer tells us where we use a doxology
        (And the truth is we can use it in numerous places)
        But it doesn't tell us what a doxology is.

Since I didn't think of it earlier
        The cards are not in the bulletins.

But just looking at the words of the one we sang this morning
        Should make it pretty clear what a doxology is.

Praise God      from whom all blessings flow
Praise God              all creatures here below
Praise God                      the source of all our gifts
Praise Jesus Christ     whose power uplifts
Praise the Spirit,      Holy Spirit

What kind of music is a doxology?
        It's a praise song
We do often sing it as we present our gifts to God
        Because those gifts     have come to us from God
        Who should be praised for giving us those gifts.

I request               that, as you listen to the scripture,
you keep the doxology in your minds
        particularly the lines that go
                "from whom all blessings flow"
        and     "the source of all our gifts"

[Matthew 25: 14-30]

A man
divided his property into eight parts
He entrusted the eight parts to three servants
        three men who were supposedly loyal to him

to the first man, he gave 5 of those 8 parts
to the second, he gave 2 of the parts
and to the third, he gave one part.

The man entrusted those parts to the trio of servants
        expecting each to use the part or parts entrusted
                For his good,   not for theirs.

They knew that.
        That is why, when the property owner returned,
the first two men brought him the proceeds they had made with his property;
        And that is also why, when the property owner returned,
the third man brought back the one talent he had received.

Well, the property owner, is, of course, God
        Yes, that God   from whom all blessings do indeed flow
        Yes, that God,  who is the source of all our gifts

And that means, of course, that you and I
are the three men
to whom God entrusted God's property.

The question remains, however
        Are you and I the two good and trustworthy servants?
        Or are you and I the third man
                The one whom God called
wicked and lazy and worthless
                the one thrown
into the outer darkness.

There was a disparity in the gifts of the three men.
        The first man had five times the gifts of the third
        The second had fewer gifts than the first,
but twice as many as the third

Like them there is a disparity in our gifts
        We too have been blessed in different ways

But the only disparity displayed by God the property owner was,
        That God expected more from the one with more gifts.
        That was why God was equally pleased with the first two
                Even though the first made five talents
and the second only two.

What distinguished the first two from the third
        Was not the disparity of their gifts
But rather that the first two
used the gifts God had given them - And used them for God

And the third man?
        He didn't use his gift at all
        He didn't even try to use his gift
                A gift given to him by the very same God
                Who had given the gifts to the first two.

As that property owner expected his servants to use what he had entrusted to them,
God expects us to use the gifts God has entrusted to us.
        For we are stewards rather than owners of those gifts.

Because today is the day we complete our estimated giving cards
        Much of our personal focusing is on using our economic gifts

I am receiving a raise of $720 for next year
        And despite increased health insurance costs (for us, not the church) our estimated giving cards will reflect a $72 increase
That is only $6.00 per month, $3.00 from each pay check.

It seems embarrassingly small
        But if 65 giving units all increased their giving by that amount, that would produce nearly $4,700 more money for the church.

However, if we limit our thinking on stewardship to economics
        We fail.
        We fail individually            we fail as a church
        And most certainly, I fail as a pastor.

For while economic gifts necessarily loom large today
        They only make up a small portion (the most easily quantified portion) of the gifts God has given to us.

The teaching in the Sunday School
The working in the kitchen
The singing in the choir
The bringing of people to the church
The reading of the scriptures
The willingness to learn in Bible Study
The sharing of compassion and love
The working in the sound booth
The visiting of, and the praying for, others

It took me less than 15 seconds
        To name nine opportunities to use our gifts
        And not one of them costs a penny - not a penny.

God is the source of all our gifts
        The non economic as well as the economic
God is the source too of the gift of opportunity
        Opportunity to use both kinds of gifts.

Today is Stewardship Sunday
        A day for each of us to decide
                Whether we are the first and second servants
                        Who used the gifts from God for God
                Or whether we are the third servant
                        Who simply gave the unused gift back to God.

Are we Deborah          who trusted and served God
Are we Barak            whose trust and service was conditioned on
whether Deborah would go with him to protect him



Our message title,
        In summarizing the gifts in the story of our scripture says,
                "Use It Or Lose It."

Late Thursday afternoon, a curious thing happened.
        A young man of college age was walking past our place
                He had two friends of similar age walking with him
                He stopped and took a picture of our sign
                        And then having taken the picture,
he caught back up to his friends.
Much later that same night
        About 11:00, I believe
(but by then I had dozed off somewhat)
Three men also of college age
        Were returning from downtown
        They stopped
And they took a picture of our sign.

Two groups of college students stopped on the same day
        To take pictures of the sign.

I believe that it was the sermon title
that attracted their interest
        And made them pay attention

If "Use It Or Lose It"
        Could attract the attention of young college age men
        On their way to or from some event other than church

Shouldn't it
And the scripture that inspired it
grab committed persons like you and me
on Stewardship Sunday?

And from now on?