Summary: The third and final of a set of sermons on the theme of giving
You may wondering why there is half a person [a stuffed pair of trousers] sitting on this seat here. Apparently her name is Penny. Of course that may not be what you are wondering about. What you are wondering about instead may be why on earth there is a see-through ceiling a few feet above your head…
I will explain … eventually.
But first - go back 5 weeks to our first Stewardship Sunday. In that sermon we celebrated the many ways in which so many of you are so generous. I was just thinking at last Saturday’s Barbecue how wonderful it was that so many people produced so many cakes - that when we had an enormous baptism on the Sunday morning we had so many cakes left over we had enough to feed all the baptism guests. So 5 weeks ago we celebrated the huge amount of generosity that is already going on here. Then I explained how the second sermon would talk about God’s generosity - God’s giving of himself on the cross. And then I asked what you would like the thrid Stewardship Sermon to be on.
And you chose. Out of the 11 things offered to you, you chose “The Vision Thing: The difference we could make in the local community and the ways we could build God’s kingdom if we had more money.”
The first reading that David read to us was very short - but is very powerful. “Where there is no vision, the people perish”. This is a phrase that has been taken up by secular motivational speakers all over the world - but at it’s heart it is a biblical phrase - where there is no vision the people perish.
I would like to coupl that with another phrase that isn’t in the bible but which I have come across many times and which I firmly believe to be true- “Where there is vision, there is pro-vision”. “Where there is vision, there is pro-vision”. That’s why I am glad you chose “The Vision Thing” as the topic for today’s sermon - because in churches where people grasp the vision, there is no problem getting the funds. As I am sure you will agree, people will give when they agree what they are giving to.
There is a story told about a man who goes to a building site. He see’s three labourers there. He goes up to the first one (who looks a bit depressed) and asks “What are you doing?” “well - I put these bricks here, and then I put some cement on the top and then some more bricks and then more cement - and then five o clock I get to go home.”
So the man asks the second labourer “What are you doing?” “Well” says the man “ I am not just putting bricks on top of one another, I’m part of a team making a building appear- and when it’s finished we’ll look back and think “we built that””
So the man asks the third labourer “What are you doing?””I’m saving lives” “What?” “well I may only be putting bricks on top of each other and adding cement - but I am part of a team putting this building together. And when it’s finished it’s going to be a hospital, and people are going to be brought here and there lives will be saved. And I know my bricks are a small part of it, but without my bricks their lives wouldn’t be saved”
Which of the three labourers do you think is the happiest and most fulfilled?
“Where there is no vision, the people perish”
I could talk to you today about some specifics about how the all the extra money you have already pledged so far, and the money some of you will pledge today might be spent
About how if we get enough, some it might be seed money to help us get interns, young people taking a year out to work with the church
About other other money might go to improving our building - perhaps a new heating system for example so visitors don’t freeze in winter
about how other money will go towards paying the bills such as Common Fund, and general repairs and the heating bill and so.
Yes - in a moment I will talk about interns and building improvements AND paying the bills but that is not vision.
“Paying the bills” might be thought of as like the man who when asked ““What are you doing?” replies “well - I put these bricks here, and then I put some cement on the top and then some more bricks and then more cement” It’s true. It’s vital, but it’s not vision.
what of “a new heating system” or “interns” might be compared to the second labourer who says “ I am not just putting bricks on top of one another, I’m part of a team making a building appear- and when it’s finished we’ll look back and think “we built that”” It’s true. It’s vitalising, but it’s not vision.