Summary: A sermon preparing the congregation to pledge, emphasizing the need of the giver to give, not the need of the church to "get."

The Reformed Church of Locust Valley Pentecost XX October 21, 2001 Mt. 5:13-16, II Cor. 9:6-15

“Cheerful Givers”

“Giving isn’t about the receiver or the gift but the giver. It’s for the giver.”

That’s the theme of our annual stewardship program called Consecrating Stewards.

What I just said is a quote – “Giving isn’t about the receiver or the gift but the giver. It’s for the giver.”

That’s a quote. And in a little while I’m going to tell you who said that, and you will be shocked when I tell you who said, “Giving isn’t about the receiver or the gift but the giver. It’s for the giver.”

I’m preaching my stewardship sermon this morning because it’s my last chance. On November 4, our guest steward will join us in worship, Roger Leonard. I’ll be here, but Roger will preach. Next Sunday is my turn to give a stewardship sermon, but next Sunday’s worship is going to full of surprises and neat stuff. In fact, there will be so many interesting things in it, I’m not even sure of them all yet – but it might have to do with a goat, a skit, award Bibles, and lay presentations. Whatever else, it will be interesting and different. But there won’t be time for a stewardship sermon from this church’s pastor, so it is being preached THIS Sunday.

The theme of Consecrating Stewards is always, “Giving isn’t about the receiver or the gift but the giver. It’s for the giver.” Consecrating Stewards emphasizes NOT the need of the church to receive, but the need for the giver to give.

So I am quoting this piece of writing to you in saying the theme of consecrating stewards, “Giving isn’t about the receiver or the gift but the giver. It’s for the giver.”

If I gave you the rest of worship this morning – all 35 of the minutes remaining between now and the benediction, I’ll wager you wouldn’t guess who said that. Someone might guess – “It came out of the consecrating stewards manual, right?” Wrong. Someone would say, “It was from a great preacher, like Billy Graham or Thomas Long or James Forbes, right?” Wrong. Someone would say, “A great theologian said it, someone like Karl Barth or Reinhold Niebuhr, right?” Wrong. Someone would say, "A denominational executive, Wesley Granberg-Michaelson or Jon Norton said it, right?” Wrong.

But somewhere in the congregation, there might be someone saying to herself, wait a minute, I just read that somewhere. Maybe one of our quilters, or one of the women in the Reformed Church Women’s group. And suddenly it would dawn on her. “I know where I read that, ‘Giving isn’t about the receiver or the gift but the giver. It’s for the giver.’ I read it in this month’s Family Circle magazine. And guess who wrote it? Someone who, until this very moment you would never have regarded as a national spiritual leader – Stephen King!

Yes, you heard me right. Stephen King.

I hardly believe it either. But it’s true.

It is a little one-page piece from the consummate author of spine-tinglers and movies that give you the creeps.

Let me quote some more, because Stephen King can preach for us this morning. The little piece from Family Circle magazine is called, “What We Pass on.”

“A couple of years ago, I found out what ‘you can’t take it with you’ means. I found out while I was lying in a ditch at the side of a country road, covered with mud and blood and with the tibia of my right leg poking out the side of my jeans like the branch of a tree taken down during a thunderstorm. I had a MasterCard in my wallet, but when you’re lying in a ditch with broken glass in your hair, no one accepts MasterCard.”

“We all know life is ephemeral, but on that particular day and in the months that followed, I got a painful but extremely valuable look at life’s simple backstage truths. We come in naked and broke. We may be dressed when we go out, but we’re just as broke. Warren Buffet? Going to go out broke. Bill Gates? Going out broke. Tom Hanks? Going out broke. Steve King? Broke. Not a crying dime.”

“All the money you earn, all the stocks you buy, all the mutual funds you trade – all of that is mostly smoke and mirrors. It’s still going to be a quarter past late whether you tell the time on a Timex or a Rolex. No matter how large your bank account, no matter how many credit cards you have, sooner or later things will begin to go wrong with the only three things you have that you can really call your own: your body, your spirit and your mind.”

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