Summary: Acting out of love is the heart and soul of stewardship. Love is by nature generous.
October 11, 2020
Hope Lutheran Church
Rev. Mary Erickson
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 for our stewardship emphasis this year is “Faithful, Hopeful, Loving.” Today we’re centering our reflections on Loving – Loving Generosity.
“Faithful, Hopeful, Loving” is inspired by the verse in 1 Corinthians 13:13: “Now, faith, hope and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” Faith, hope and love abide. These are the three divine forces working within us. But Paul states that the greatest of these three is love. That’s because faith and hope both derive from and are hinged to God’s love:
• Our faith points to the love of God
• We’re anchored in hope because of God’s love
This is why love is the greatest of the three. God’s love is the origin of faith and hope. St. John tells us “God is love.” God’s love is primary. It came before all things and all love can be traced back to God’s love. God’s love is pure and uncorrupted. It’s complete and unbroken.
Our own capacity to love comes from having been loved. The love we’ve received – from parents and grandparents, from neighbors and teachers, from siblings and spouses – these loves are imperfect. Unlike God’s love, our brand of loving has been corrupted by the sin and evil that has eroded this life. That perfect love from God doesn’t translate directly in us.
But there is love. Imperfect and incomplete though it may be, there is love among us. Like a broken mirror, we’re still able to reflect some of the loving light that has come to us from the divine.
And the more we come to perceive and dwell in God’s perfect love, the more complete and whole our own brand of loving can become.
This is heart and soul of stewardship. Stewardship is about the living of our lives. Now that we’ve come to see that our entire being and all that we are have come to God, what are we going to do with our lives? Now that we understand that every new day, every good gift we have comes from God, what are we going to do with all of these days we’ve been given, all of the talents and wisdom and earthly resources we’ve been entrusted with? Now that we see all of the people around us and in our lives as souls dearly beloved by God, how are we going to dwell in community with them? This is what stewardship is.
Loving Generosity. The love we have received, we can now give in generosity.
How much love is there? Love isn’t finite. Love isn’t like a pie that can only be cut up into so many pieces and then it’s all gone. Stewarding our love isn’t something we need to dole out in a miserly fashion.
No, love is more like a muscle, like the heart. The more we use it, the stronger it becomes. As we engage in loving actions, the more our capacity to love expands. The more we love, the more our love grows.
I’m not a parent, but I’ve heard the comments from first time parents when they see and hold their child for the very first time. They know they’re going to love this newborn before it arrives, but the love they experience comes unexpectedly. What they feel for that child blows them over. It completely fills them to overflowing. They’re filled with a warmth and a light that surpasses any love they’d felt before.
And if child number two comes along, they don’t run out of love. The whole thing happens all over again! More love. Love multiplies. It doesn’t divide; it grows. This multiplication of love reveals the nature of God’s abundant loving.
Love is by nature generous. There’s no such things as miserly love. Love cannot be tight-fisted. If love should come across in this way, then something besides love is afoot. Love is generous. Love is self-giving. That’s because love is focused on the object being loved! Love cares more about the beloved than it does about itself.
Jesus said that the commandments can be summed up into two things: love God and love your neighbor. That’s what we do in the stewarding our lives. We love God and we love our neighbor.
And that perfectly sums up what we do here as a faith community. Through our worship we express our tremendous love of God, who has loved us first. We gather in praise and thanksgiving to lift our hearts and minds to the God who creates, redeems and sustains.
As a faith community we also express love towards our neighbors. Together, we function as a unit. We come together so that we can operate jointly. St. Paul says that together we become the “body of Christ.” Just as a body has many parts and organs, together we operate jointly. We combine our energies and our unique abilities and talents. We come together as a single unit of many parts, all of us moving together as though we were one. We join all our resources. And when we do so, we can accomplish things that none of us could do alone.