As we do every October, we take this month for our Stewardship focus. This month’s Worship series will feature several voices from our congregation, all focused on the idea of Generous Living.
This Sunday’s message will be brought by Su-Yen, who has been an active participant in our faith community for many years. As a part of a multi-racial and multi-religious family, Su-Yen brings a unique and powerful perspective to our Stewardship focus. Coupled with her intense passion for the people of this congregation, her message is likely to be powerful and filled with deep wisdom.
In this Sunday’s text, Paul’s often-quoted line, “God loves a cheerful giver,” is present in its fuller context. In this, Paul reminds us to include God in the conversation when we are deciding how to support the ministries of the church. When we think about how we will commit our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness to PB UMC, we must do so prayerfully and with God’s guidance.
2 Corinthians 9:1-15 (CEB)
1It’s unnecessary for me to write to you about this service for God’s people. 2I know about your willingness to help. I brag about you to the Macedonians, saying, “Greece has been ready since last year,” and your enthusiasm has motivated most of them.
3But I’m sending the brothers so that our bragging about you in this case won’t be empty words, and so that you can be prepared, just as I keep telling them you will be. 4If some Macedonians should come with me and find out that you aren’t ready, we (not to mention you) would be embarrassed as far as this project goes.
5This is why I thought it was necessary to encourage the brothers to go to you ahead of time and arrange in advance the generous gift you have already promised. I want it to be a real gift from you. I don’t want you to feel like you are being forced to give anything. 6What I mean is this: the one who sows a small number of seeds will also reap a small crop, and the one who sows a generous amount of seeds will also reap a generous crop.
7Everyone should give whatever they have decided in their heart. They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure. God loves a cheerful giver. 8God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work. 9As it is written, He scattered everywhere; he gave to the needy; his righteousness remains forever.
10The one who supplies seed for planting and bread for eating will supply and multiply your seed and will increase your crop, which is righteousness. 11You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous in every way. Such generosity produces thanksgiving to God through us. 12Your ministry of this service to God’s people isn’t only fully meeting their needs but it is also multiplying in many expressions of thanksgiving to God. 13They will give honor to God for your obedience to your confession of Christ’s gospel. They will do this because this service provides evidence of your obedience, and because of your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone. 14They will also pray for you, and they will care deeply for you because of the outstanding grace that God has given to you. 15Thank God for his gift that words can’t describe!
Consider these questions:
- Have you heard Paul’s quote before (God loves a cheerful giver)? In what context? What is used in a positive way? How do you understand it in the greater context of the scriptures?
- What is your practice in deciding how to support ministries and organizations? Is it purely budget-focused? How do you seek God’s guidance in these decisions? How does God respond? Have you felt as though God has challenged you in these areas?
Post-Worship Update on 10/22
Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found at this link (will open in a new tab).
Our worship on Sunday continued with an inspiring message form a lay member of this congregation. Su-Yen K. spoke with eloquence and passion, sharing her story and her history and her struggles, and how she experiences God’s guidance and grace on her spiritual journey. Her struggles with health, particularly a cancer diagnosis and journey toward healing, shaped Su-Yen and called her to live her life all in.
Learning from this, Su-Yen invites us to dedicates ourselves completely to all that God calls us to do, especially in the ministry of Pacific Beach United Methodist Church. She reminds us that this faith community will be exactly what we put into it. If we put ourselves all in, this faith community can have no limits. In this way, we give with gratitude, we give with hope, and we give with generosity.
Su-Yen then gives us some helpful practical guidance, asking “how can we work together so that our results are more than the sum of our parts?”
- Start with regular giving
- perhaps with automated giving
- increase giving by 1%, 10%, 100%
- don’t let a person pass you by without a “hello” or a smile
- connect with someone in your pew at church or in your neighborhood
- give 5 acknowledgments to someone (or to people) each day: “I see you”
- pick up trash on the way too and from your car
- find ways to make deeper connections with your fellow church members
- find ways to bring in new people
These actions, and many more, can be a way to pass on God’s love.
Consider these questions:
- In what ways have you felt connected with this faith community? How do you feel called to respond to this connection?
- What are practical ways you can commit yourself to being all in related to your faith life and your faith community? This could be inspired by the list above or something else.
- What do you think this church and faith community need that you can offer?