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Homily for 2/3/08 - P36 - Giving

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  • Fr David Moser
    2 Cor 9:6-10 In a spiritual sense, we belong to the Church, we are members of the Body of Christ and we come together here in this temple to pray together, to
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 5, 2008
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      2 Cor 9:6-10

      In a spiritual sense, we belong to the Church, we are members of the
      Body of Christ and we come together here in this temple to pray
      together, to worship God together and to help and support one another.
      In a physical sense, however, this church, this temple, belongs to us
      and so we have a responsibility to carry out the work of the Church and
      to care for the temple. There are many ways that we can support the
      Church. We can come to the services and pray together. This is of vital
      importance, more important that we sometimes realize. It is here in our
      corporate worship that we express our identity, our unity, our oneness
      as the Body of Christ without which there is no hope of our life in
      eternity. We are indeed all saved together and together we work out our
      salvation.

      Another way in which we fulfill our responsibility is by giving of the
      bounty which God has given to each of us. As the Apostle told us today
      in his letter, “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and
      he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man
      according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly,
      or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” By our giving, the
      work of the Church is carried forward. We give to support the building
      and maintenance of the temple, we give to help the poor and needy, we
      give so that other parishes and monasteries might share in the bounty
      that God has given, we give to help support our church schools, we give
      to support the infrastructure of the Church. All these things and more
      are the result of our giving. Elsewhere in the same letter the Apostle
      again tells us that by our giving, we support each other saying “I do
      not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an
      equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack,
      that their abundance also may supply your lack – that there may be
      equality.”

      One of the concerns that arises once one is convinced of the necessity
      to give is the question, “How much should I give?” The first and obvious
      answer is that each one of us should give all that he has to God.
      However, that answer must be worked out in the context of our lives. The
      Gospel says that “those to whom much is given, from them much will be
      required” telling us that our giving should be in proportion to that
      which God has given to us. As we mentioned above, we give out of the
      abundance that God has provided us. Another measure of giving is also
      cited by the Apostle from the Old Testament law: “He who gathered much
      had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack” Thus we
      see that we take that which God has given to us and from that we meet
      our own needs and what remains we share with our brethren so that they
      have no lack. This then is the first measure of “How much should I
      give?” – that is we give according to what God has given to us.

      Still this is too general; how do we separate that which we need from
      that which we give? In some religions, there is a strict rule, a
      percentage that you “owe” to God and to the Church. This percentage, in
      accordance with the Old Testament law is often set at 10% and called a
      tithe. In order to be a member “in good standing” of the church, they
      say, one must pay the tithe, 10% of one’s earnings. Although this
      percentage is a good example and suggestion for our own giving, it is
      really only the letter of the law. In ourselves we own nothing, all that
      we have is given to us by God, whether that be the roof over our heads,
      the food on the table, the paycheck that we bring home or the profits
      from our business or the work that we do. All this is from God and
      therefore all this we offer up to God. The tithe is really only symbolic
      of this offering.

      How then do we give? In the end, it comes down to the admonition of our
      Lord, “Give to him who asks of you, and from him who wants to borrow
      from you, do not turn away” When a need arises before you, meet it
      according to the wealth that God has given to you. God has provided for
      you so that you might then provide for others. And so we come back to
      the epistle that we heard today, “let each one give as he purposes in
      his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver”

      Inherent in all this talk about giving, it is also important to remember
      that we too are the recipients of giving. We have received an abundance
      of worldly provision from God, and continue to receive from Him. This
      wealth that we receive is not for our own comfort and leisure, but
      rather that we might use what He has given us to give, in turn, to
      others. And as we give – so also He gives to us, “He who sows (gives)
      sparingly will also reap sparingly and He who sows bountifully will also
      reap bountifully.” God gives to us so that we might give to others – and
      when we have proven to be good stewards of the bounty that He has
      provided, then He, in turn, gives to us all the more, that we may give
      all the more. God does not give to us so that we might “save up for a
      rainy day” but rather that we might give to others, knowing that when
      our own “rainy day” comes, God will provide for us as He always has. We
      should give to others in such an amount that we are always reminded that
      we ourselves are dependent upon God for all that we have and need in
      this life.

      And so having heard all this, let us look at what God has given to us
      and ask ourselves, what can I give back to God? God has given us so many
      things, time, money, energy, skill, talent, opportunity, ability and so
      on. All of this He has given to us so that we might in turn give to
      others and so continue His work through the work of His Body the Church.
      We have here a building, a temple that God has provided for us. We must
      use this Church building and not let it set idle. The first and most
      important use for this building is to gather together here to pray and
      worship God – that is the primary purpose of the Church building – and
      without our corporate prayer and worship, all else that we do is without
      foundation. In addition, our building is the center of our parish life;
      and so we should make it useful to those functions. In this building we
      need a place to gather as a parish family (that is a parish hall) for
      those things we do other than our corporate worship. In this place we
      eat together and talk together, building the bonds of friendship and
      mutual support. In this place we learn together about our faith and here
      we also provide opportunities to share our faith with the world around
      us. In this place we work to prepare food and drink for those in need or
      to prepare other gifts of charity. The Church building is so much more
      than only a place to pray and worship together, it is the physical
      symbol and center of our community of faith. In order to make this
      happen we must support and maintain the building that we have by our
      giving and we must offer funds beyond that basic need, to build onto and
      enlarge our building so that becomes a place where we can work out our
      salvation and do God’s work together.

      Not only the local Church building is important, but also we must see
      the needs of our brethren throughout the world and share with them some
      of the wealth that God has given. We have undertaken to help support the
      rebuilding and restoration of a parish in Russia and we have sent not
      only that which was offered by those of us here, but we have also
      received offerings from other people in other parishes – they are
      sharing their wealth so that we together we can support this good work.
      This is an example of how we are part of a larger Church spread
      throughout the world. We have members of this parish who live throughout
      the state, and by our giving, we can help them to establish their own
      mission communities in their own towns and cities. Our own parish is
      cared for by our pastor and archpastor, the priest and bishop of the
      Church, and just as they care for our souls so we also must care for
      their needs as well. We are faced with many many opportunities and
      reasons for giving – and so we are called by God to give bountifully so
      that we might also receive bountifully from Him.

      “Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply
      and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your
      righteousness.”

      --
      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org
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