Oxford United Methodist Church
Monday, August 29, 2016
Sermon Series: Faith
If you are reading this over Super Bowl Weekend, Joanne and I are in Florida, visiting one of our dearest friends who has terminal leukemia. I will be back the middle of next week. Current planning has Joanne remaining in Florida and helping with the care of our friend until she passes on. This travel was not planned at the beginning of the year, so it will have an impact on the Sygeels' spending for 2012. But isn't that the way life is? We re-prioritize the use of our resources to fit what we deem is truly important.
Another good friend, this one a member here at Oxford asked me if I was the kind of person who could turn things off that were happening at home while I was gone on a trip. In other words she was hoping I would get Sabbath rest while away from the challenges of work and home and just life in general. I had to be honest and tell her that was highly problematic with me. I find it very hard to detach from the people and things I love, which is not always a sign of strength--who am I to think I am that important in the scheme of things?
So here I am writing a second blog. Because, even though there will be displays and a short talk this Sunday about our upcoming Miracle Sunday, I couldn't get on that airplane without adding a few additional thoughts on the subject.
We are calling it Miracle Sunday for a Reason. Miracles are out of the ordinary. They involve things happening that we didn't believe were possible. They require God's power, multiplying our less-than-adequate efforts, to bring about what we believe is God's will. $54,000 is not an ordinary Oxford Sunday. It is not an ordinary Oxford month when it comes to offering, much less as a gift that size above-and-beyond our normal tithes and offerings. It is a big enough number to cause us to doubt, even despair of our achieving it. The truth is, we won't, or at least not alone, but with God's help, our faithfulness, and true sacrifice, we will.
Rejected Marketing Ploys. As we thought about how to present this campaign to the congregation the early brainstorming brought up some odd ways to break down what people needed to give. One of the first ones was kind of a set of different different levels of giving to consider based on an eating theme, as in "Some of you might give $1,000--that would be a mouthful of the goal. And we only need 54 mouthfuls. Or maybe some of you might give $500--take a bite out of apportionments. 108 gifts like that and we are there....we would call the gifts smaller than that nibbles...and we would emphasis how nibbles add up (just look at my waist!).
Another idea was to convince to people to look at 2012 as a year with 13 months so that we would encourage each Oxford family member to give the equivalent of their monthly gift. In the end, of course, all of these were rejected. Instead, what we ask each of you to do is to remember. Remember our heritage as a faithful congregation to the greater church, who has always paid our apportionments. Remember that just like we as members of the family of God are called to give "first fruits" that this is a way that we as a church can model that. Remember that in numbers there is strength and that the United Methodist Church as a whole can accomplish so much more that we can as just individual congregations. Remember that if we are faithful in this, God will give us the ability to be faithful in even bigger things. Remember, and act accordingly.
Everybody Can't. I know that we all can't give to this miracle. It is my hope and prayer that you will truly know that is all right. Do not give because you feel you must. Do not give out of guilt. Do not give beyond you ability and desire to give. I believe there are enough who are willing, able, and desirous of participating in this glorious opportunity. Just think your gifts will go to work in every widening circles of ministry--our neighborhood, our city, our state, our country, our world. And if, no when, we make our goal I believe that we will be set free from many of our fears for the future, stop holding on to the failures in our past, and reach the world for the kingdom of God today. Peace!