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

Showing Off or Up

November 11th:

Showing Off or Up
Potsdam
Call:   Hebrews 9: 24-28
Text:   Mark 12: 38-44
Read:   Psalm 146       (858)


[Read Mark 12: 38-44]

Have you ever had things just fall into place?
        Not because you did such a great job of planning or preparing
But simply because it happens
        Perhaps it happens despite - or because of - our mistakes.

When this happens, we find ourselves awed - and delightedly so.

That is what I have experienced as we have built up to this special day
        A day when we celebrate
the gifts over which God has made us stewards.
        By committing some of those gifts to God's service
                Through this congregation.

I wish I could take credit for the ways things fell into place
I wish I could say that I planned it this way.
But, and this is a good thing
 I am quite uncomfortable about lying to you.
And so I have to admit  that I am not entitled to any credit

I don't deserve credit for the fact that the scriptures over the last few weeks
have all touched on aspects of stewardship

Three weeks ago we heard the story of a rich young man
who asked Christ how he could enter the kingdom of heaven
and you and I were sad
when the man dejectedly walked away
because Christ had told him that he would have to make the sacrifice of selling all his possessions

And when we heard this, we asked ourselves,
"Could we?      Would we?
Have been willing to make that sacrifice to follow and serve Christ - if we had been the rich young man?

Then the following week
        We heard John and James demanding
to sit in the places of greatest honor in Christ's kingdom

We were embarrassed by their behavior
        But     we wrestled with whether we feel entitled to what we want.

But that same story also provided us with the reassuring example of J&J humbling themselves by remaining loyal followers.
Even after being told that if they wanted to share in Jesus' glory
                That they would not only have to sacrifice status and position
                But also they would have to share in his suffering.
And that too raised the question of whether we would be willing
        To accept those conditions      or walk away like the young man
For the second week in a row we were reminded
That following Christ           requires sacrifice
        This time,       of status and position     rather than possessions
And that it may even involve suffering
        For James, we know,     it meant        being put to death

Then last week, we talked about the essential principle of being
        Servants and followers of Christ
                The Great Commandment
To love God with all our hearts, all our minds, all our souls, and all our strength
                        And to love our neighbors as ourselves

And thus we were reminded that accepting God's gifts of love
        Requires a willingness to share

Now we have this morning's scripture
With its two contrasting parts

One part warning us about how the scribes showed off their perceived importance

The other part about
a widow who showed up by giving all that she could
        Amongst much richer people who gave
                not out of sacrifice
                But out of abundance.

So for four weeks the Mark scriptures have prepared us for this morning

For four weeks we have heard about
        sacrificing, suffering, and sharing
        loving God not from what is extra, but from our hearts

all these crescendoing to a climax and conclusion
on the very day we are called to answer
some of the questions those scriptures raised.

I would like to pat myself on the back and say,
        "Great job of picking scriptures, Jim"
Or perhaps
        "Boy, Jim, you were really clever - maybe even crafty -
                In looking for and finding stewardship scriptures
                That would prepare us for today"
        Very clever;    Very Crafty;    Very Impressive

But the truth is that they are all the lectionary suggested scriptures
My only contribution to those scriptures reaching climax today
And this is somewhat embarrassing -
was a mistake

You see, I am a week off on the lectionary on the Mark scriptures
                Not because I made a decision to move them a week
                But because when planning the services
                        I simply wrote the wrong dates for these scriptures
                                And that was some six weeks ago.

By the time I discovered my error I had already sent the information to
        Betsy, Warren, Debby, and Paula - and the Trumpeter

And, at that point,
 there was just no way that I was going to make changes
And, to be honest,      I figured that no one would notice anyway.

HOWEVER, Bill and Trish worshipped in Dobbs Ferry with Krisanne on one Sunday
        The next week they were here
                And immediately after the service made note that Krisanne's pastor had preached on the same scripture the week before.

I had lost my cover and had three options
        I could lie;            I could misdirect;      or I could come clean
        I came clean.
[After all, I can't bring myself to lie to you.]

But if I hadn't screwed up,
      We would have heard about the scribe who drew attention to himself
      And about the widow to whom Jesus drew attention
A week too early!       Instead of on Stewardship Sunday

I can only conclude that God took my mistake
        And used it for our advantage

And this is confirmed by the fact that during this same time
        I have baptized four children and an adult
                At which times I talked about commitment
And     I have received four persons into membership
                At which time I talked about commitment

On a personal level, in my devotions this week
I kept encountering scriptures and other writings
that tied in with Stewardship
Like Proverbs 1: 19     (which I may never have read before)
which talks about our greed taking away our lives
Greed as a life sucking substance seems like a scary Halwn movie

I felt bombarded by the challenges.  But I also felt grateful and blessed.

Grateful and blessed
that the word of God continues to be alive and active
Grateful and blessed
        That the scriptures talked about sacrifice, suffering, and sharing
Sacrificing       status, position, honors, attention, and desires
Suffering              the pain of disappointment as well as physical
And     Sharing love    even with those who are harder to love
Grateful and blessed
        That this morning's scripture is the climax
        For of all the people we have met in these four weeks of scriptures
The widow who gave only two small copper coins
is the most impressive

This concluding scripture shows us
that that giving is not measured by the size of the gift
        But by the size of the heart behind that gift.

We may not be able to give as much time or money as we would like
We may not be able to give as much as we will at another time.

But we do need to let our hearts help us distinguish between
        Showing up for Christ           or      Showing off for others.