Sermons

Summary: a sermon on Stewardship

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“Father, the hour has come, glorify your son so that your son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people to give eternal life to all you have given him” (John 17:1-2)

In a month or so’s time I am going to have a hernia operation, so yesterday morning I went to UCH for my pre-op assessment. The nurse recognised me. She had been at a funeral for her cousin here at St Barnabas two and a half years ago. In fact she had been at the house as I had visited her dying cousin. She talked about how precious the funeral had been, about the sense of hope she had received.

When the standing order comes out of your bank account or you put your envelope in the collection plate, it may not feel like it, but part of what your money is contributing to is hope.

“Father, the hour has come, glorify your son so that your son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people to give eternal life to all you have given him” (John 17:1-2)

Of course what your money pays for is many other things too. Joy- the joy of a christening or a wedding like the ones we have had in the last few weeks. Relationship with God “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world.”(John 17:6) When next week on Pentecost, even if it is only just one person, when someone goes up for prayer ministry and has a really profound life changing experience of the Holy Spirit, that experience could not have happened without your donations paying to keep God’s work going in this place. And not just relationship with God, but community with one another “that they might be one as we are one” (John 17:11). That fellowship that we have with one another comes from you to keep God’s work going in this place.

So thank you, thank you thank you

Thank you for the ways you have been giving already and thank you for all the ways you have responded to the Stewardship Campaign so far.

One of the ways in which some you will have been responding to the stewardship campaign is to put a legacy to the church in your will.

Jesus gives us eternal life, but the one thing we know about money is “you can’t take it with you”

When I was vicar of Holy Trinity Barkingside the Church Building was in fantastic state. Just before I arrived the entire building had been redecorated and every flaw repaired. A new beautiful stained glass window had been put in. How had all this been paid for? Because of a committed Christian called Audrey Campbell. Her husband had died before her and she had no children, so she left the value of her entire house to the church. You know how much houses are worth.

Well there are not many of us who have no children we need to provide for, but it is amazing the difference leaving even a small percentage of an estate to the church can make.

So before I go on, Margaret is going now to talk a bit about legacies

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While I added the Malachi reading because it was a stewardship Sunday - the 1 Peter reading and the John reading are just the normal readings for this Sunday - but it’s amazing how the Holy Spirit can give us readings that speak powerfully to our circumstances.

Our second reading (1 Peter 4:12-19) is about suffering as Christians.

I think the danger for us in the west is we have it too easy. I heard once of a Chinese pastor who prayed that persecution wouldn’t stop, or else Chinese Christians might turn in half hearted Christians like us in the west.

What does my faith cost me?

Very early every Sunday morning, rural Chinese Christian Simei Tong sets out from her small house in the mountains. She walks for two hours, along narrow, winding pathways and village lanes, until she gets to the home of her blind friend, Zhou Maoying. Taking hold of her arm, she carefully guides her as they walk for another hour. (Watch the video below.)

When they reach Luo Shui village where their little church is located, they have one more hurdle to overcome: they have to cross a stream by wobbling across a series of stepping stones. Their friend Yang Jinying, who also takes two hours to get to church, recently slipped and broke her arm while crossing the stream. (1)

They travel for two or three hours to get to church and are there every Sunday. Me? You? It’s easy for us to get here, isn’t it?

In North Korea there are only 500,000 or fewer Christians, and one in 5 of them is a prisoner in a labour camp - a death camp similar to Aushwitz. Can you imagine if we had to worship in secret and one in five of us was rounded up and sent to place like that.

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