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

The Gift

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November 17:

Call:    Stewardship Moment
Text:    Luke 21: 1-4
Prophet  Isaiah 12: 1-6

            The Gift

The story is simple and familiar
   We have heard it over and over again
This morning we hear it once more:  Luke 21: 1-4

The rich persons contributed out of their abundance
The poor widow with the two copper coins
   Contributed out of her poverty
      Money she could have used
         For needs not personal indulgence
         For necessities not delightful luxuries.

It sounds like a stewardship scripture And it is
Although that is not why we are hearing it today.

We are hearing it because it reminds us of what we often miss
        That scripture is about attitudes and motives and emotions
      Not about acts and not about money.

The woman needed her money,
   But she was so grateful to God
   That she gave God priority over herself.

The rich men gave also
   But to comply with the law and to buy God's favor
      In contrast to the woman's giving her gift
         out of love and gratitude
Our other scripture this morning is also about attitude

For the words God spoke through Isaiah this morning
   are about Joy, Gratitude, and Trust
These are attitudes - not actions
   But actions flow out of them.

A lot of our scriptures are about attitudes.

The parable of "The Good Samaritan" (Bible Study this week)
deals with the attitudes of each character

What were
the attitudes that enabled the priest and Levite to pass by?
What was
   The attitude that caused the Samaritan to stop to help?

My favorite OT scripture from Micah says we are called
   to do justice     but to love kindness

Love is an attitude
an attitude inside of us that makes us kind
It is not a rule telling that we had better be kind
   "and that there are consequences if we are not ..."

Unfortunately, all too often, however,
we respond to scriptural commands as if they are rules
      Complete with rewards for obeying
      And punishment for not

And thus in the story from Luke
   Both the rich men and the poor women give
But what separates them is their attitude

We know that attitude is important and drives our actions
And yet, I think that we actually prevent ourselves from developing  trusting, loving attitudes
for fear of human failure

For many of us are afraid to risk such failure
   And therefore choose human ways and values
   Rather than choosing to trust God

After all we know what human criticism and human ridicule are
We can imagine them
Because most of us have experienced them

And so when called to make a choice,
we often choose the wrong one.

A half century ago Richard Stolley had to make a choice

He had to choose whether to show understanding and patience
to a man who had something he wanted
Or Whether to be pushy, selfish, and aggressive
      In the hopes of getting it before anyone else could.

Which of those choices reflect an attitude that is
   Born in Christ's example and nurtured by Christ's teaching
      A teaching that tells us
      That to love God, we must love our neighbor?

Let me share the story and its details

The decision had to be made
   In Dallas, Texas
   On November 22, 1963
      A place and date
that all of us born before 1950
will never forget.
Stolley was sent to Dallas that afternoon by LIFE Magazine
boarding a plane less than an hour
after learning that President Kennedy had been shot.

At 6:00 that evening he was astonished to learn
that a Dallas business man had, by chance,
filmed the assassination
   The man's name was Abraham Zapruder

Immediately Stolley found and called Zapruder's home
When no one answered, he called every fifteen minutes
   No answer,  No answer,  No answer

Finally about 11:00 that night
a tired, shaken, and weary Zapruder answered
   having just returned from getting the film developed

Stolley asked if he could come right over to see the film.

Zapruder said, "No."
   Explaining that he was exhausted
   And that he was overcome by what he had witnessed.

Zapruder did, however, invite Stolley to come to his office at 9:00 the next morning.

This was when Stolley had to make his decision:
He had to choose between pushing to come right over
   Or recognizing what Zapruder had gone through
And agreeing to meet the man in the morning.

What choice would you or I have made?
What choice would Christ have advised?
What choice would reflect an attitude that would make God smile?

Well, Richard Stolley made his choice
He chose to wait instead of pushing

His choice reflected an attitude of love, understanding and concern
   After all the man with the film
      Had not only watched the shooting of the young president
      He had also watched the film that he, himself had made

That was a lot to take in.

Stolley's choice was the one
that you and I know Christ would have advised

It was the choice
that you and I know reflected an attitude that undoubtedly made God smile

It was the choice
That you and I think and hope that we would have made.

But think:
He had to know how his editor would react
   If this choice enabled some other news organization
to swoop in
and buy the film while Richard waited for the morning?

Can't you just imagine
   "You fool!  What kind of a newsman are you?"

And if the berated reporter had responded
   "But I made God happy."
   "This was the choice Jesus' teachings required me to make"


And finally, the editor again,
   "Well Jesus Christ didn't hire you, I did
   You work for me, not for him."

The next morning Stolley went to Zapruder's office
   Arriving at 8:00 rather than 9:00
And he got to see the film with a couple of secret service agents
   Before Zapruder's 9;00 showing to other news people

While Zapruder was showing it to the other media
   Stolley waited in the office with Zapruder's secretary.

Both he and the secretary were from Illinois
   And they got talking about high school basketball

After the larger showing was over
   Zapruder told the other reporters that because Stolley had been the first to contact him, he was going to talk first with him.

While the men were conversing,
Reporters outside the room pounded on the door and shouted

After a particularly violent bang
   Zapruder looked at Stolley and said, "Let's do it."

That is how LIFE magazine purchased the Zapruder film

Abraham Zapruder died in 1970
   Stolley called Zapruder's business partner to check on a few facts.
   As they were talking, the business partner asked,
      "Do you know why you, and not one of the other reporters, got that film?"

"The money?" Stolley answered
"No, someone would have matched the amount or increased it."

"Was it my promise to not exploit the film?"

"That was important, but you got it because you were a gentleman."

And he went on to cite,
   Not badgering about coming to the house that first night
   Treating Zapruder with respect during the negotiations
   And his friendly dealings with the secretary
      While some other reporters had treated her harshly.

All of which reflected that loving understanding attitude
   That Jesus Christ expects of us.

Richard Stolley got the film
   A film we will hear a lot about this week as we observe
the fiftieth anniversary
of what still remains
the most stunning day in the lives of many of us.

More importantly, he got to hold his head high
   Because, at risk to his career,
His actions flowed from that Christ taught attitude.

But you know, in this story
Stolley might not even be the best example of that attitude

For Abraham Zapruder
Had a very valuable asset

And chose to whom to sell it
   Not by the amount offered
   But by the attitude of love he saw in the purchaser
That was an attitude that he didn't see in those who were banging on the door and shouting.

Like the poor woman with the two copper coins
   Both Richard Stolley and Abraham Zapruder set examples for us of the kind of attitude that God wants us to have.

Their attitudes should inspire us.

Interestingly enough, while the LIFE reporter was trying to reach the cameraman that Friday evening
I personally had the chance to observe this loving attitude
As it was exhibited by the clergy of the churches in Baldwinsville
   Who got together that very night
      To lead a worship and prayer service .

Nearly four decades later, I was clergy
And on September 11, 2001
I was stunned once again,
but still inspired by the attitude of the Baldwinsville clergy,
   I felt called to lead a worship and prayer service.

Seeing examples of the attitudes that God wants
can instill them in us - unless we are too afraid to let them.

Can we give God a greater gift than a attitude that is
like Christ taught
like Christ expects.

After all, we do work for Him.
And each of us must have an attitude that reflects
   A LIFE that belongs to Him
   And which is not a magazine.