Summary: God's unflagging faithfulness inspires us to practice faithful generosity in our lives.
September 27, 2020
Hope Lutheran Church
Sermon Series: “Faithful, Hopeful, Loving”
Friends, may grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and Christ Jesus our Lord.
The theme of our fall stewardship emphasis is “Faithful, Hopeful, Loving.” It’s based on the verse from 1 Corinthians 13, “Now, faith, hope and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.”
Our faith, hope and love derive from God’s faith, hope and love. The movement always begins with God. God is the source of our being, the shaper of destiny. God holds all things in the palm of God’s hands.
Today we focus on faithful: faithful generosity. Our lives have been blessed by abundant faithfulness! And like all things, that faithfulness began with God. God has been unfailing in faithful love and guidance for us! God’s constant faithfulness goes before us, like the pillar of fire went before the Israelites. God forges our way forward, one day at a time.
The Hebrews saw and recognized just how faithful God’s presence was. They understood that God’s mercies and attentions were constant. And the more they encountered this unflagging, divine faithfulness, the more they came to grasp the word which best describe this faithfulness: steadfast. God steadfastly loves us.
Steadfast. The definition is “resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering.” God’s is resolute and unwavering in devotion to us. The Hebrew word is Hesed: steadfast love. And that word Hesed is frequently paired with faithfulness in the Hebrew scriptures. Steadfast love and faithfulness: they’re like two peas in a pod. If you mention one, there the other is as well. Our psalm today pairs them together, too:
“All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness.”
God’s faithfulness is grounded in steadfast love. It’s a love that’s resolute and unwavering. No wonder faithfulness is paired with divine steadfast love!
The divine steadfast love and faithfulness did something world changing in the person of Jesus. St. Paul reflected on it in today’s reading from his letter to the Philippians. Even though the Son was in the very form of God, he didn’t cling to this perfect and transcendent realm. No, the pull of steadfast love nudged him in order to leave that realm behind to live with us. Paul says that Jesus emptied himself to take on our reality. That journey of steadfast love and faithfulness would lead him not only to living with us, but to dying for us.
This is the extent of God’s faithful generosity for us. In Christ, the division between us and God has been perfectly restored through the gracious actions of Christ Jesus. In Christ we see the words of the psalm fulfilled: all the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness!
The movement of faithful generosity begins with God. It is perfected through Christ Jesus our Lord. And we, in turn, respond to it with faithful generosity of our own.
Jon Strand just shared how his own life has been touched by the outpouring of faithful generosity from so many people. They manifest the love of God through their acts of kindness and big heartedness. That witness began with his parents. Jon saw that he could always rely on them. It was a steadfast love he could rely on. Numerous people in our congregation also shaped him through their generous spirit and by giving their time to others. Jon knows that, without the faithful support of his parents and the generous spirit of others, he wouldn’t be who he is or where he is today. Profoundly, he reflected, “This is the story that God has been writing for my life.”
As I ponder our mission and ministries here at Hope, I see clear footprints of faithful generosity. For 76 years, the members of our congregation have been supporting one another and our ministries. They’ve created a constant channel, conveying and living out the steadfast love and faithfulness which they first received from God.
Right now, I see the small group leaders and mentors for our confirmation program. They’re invested in our youth, they love our youth.
I see the faithful generosity of our musicians. We’re blessed with a rich music ministry. Dozens of people share their talents with the congregation in praiseful worship.
We act in faithful generosity through our service missions. Each week we embody the caring love of God through our service team at Feed My People Food Bank. Later on today, several people from our church will be involved in the annual God’s Work Our Hands service weekend. And through a leap of faith, we became the sponsors for our Chippewa Valley Sleep in Heavenly Peace chapter.
Faithful Generosity: The Psalmist declared, “All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness.” That steadfast love and faithfulness of God lives and moves through us. This is the story that God has been writing for our lives.