Sermon Recording – Generous Living (Luke 19.1-10)

zacchaeus

Soichi Watanabe’s Jesus And Zacchaeus

Message: Generous Living
Scriptures: Luke 19:1-10
Message 4 of 4 to accompany the study Earn, Save, Give by Rev. James A. Harnish. Offered 2/4/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Jericho

  • The turning point between Galilee and Jerusalem. Located in the Jordan River Valley near the Dead Sea
  • A fragrant and fertile place. Dates, palm-honey, myrrh, and balsam. Used to make fragrances, medicine, makeup.
  • Major trade center. Valued by Rome as a center of taxation. Rich, powerful tax collectors make sure the taxes are rendered unto Caesar, plus some extra for themselves.

Zacchaeus

  • Chief tax collector. Rich. Short.
  • What happens to short people, especially short men? They are teased. Many feel they must prove themselves.

Quote from Moments with the Savior by Ken Gire
Somewhere along the way to adulthood, Zacchaeus learned to compensate—first, to laugh at the jokes, and later, to fight back. And so, as he climbed the professional ladder, he stepped on anyone who stood in his way, anyone on the next rung up. He would show them, show them all. Someday they’d look up to him.

At last, he made it to the top—  a chief tax collector. King of the hill, controlling commerce. King of the hill, greasing his greedy little palms with the sweat of his neighbor’s brow. King of the hill, looking down over Jericho.

But the hill Zacchaeus rules is a dunghill, at least in the eyes of the people. For tax gatherers are despised as little more than ruthless bill collectors for a corrupt government. Even the Talmud looks down on them, allowing a Jew permission to lie to a murderer, to a thief, and . . . to a tax collector.

True, Zacchaeus has power. And he has wealth. But the stature he sought among others has eluded him.

What else eludes Zacchaeus? Friendship, belonging, salvation, meaning, love, healing, peace

Have you ever started down a path, only to find what you were looking for eludes you, too?

Now there’s hope
Zacchaeus has heard stories about this Jesus who was a friend of tax collectors and sinners.

  • Who ate and drank with them and stayed in their homes
  • Who changed the life of Levi/Matthew, the tax collector at Capernaum. Levi left a lucrative career, left everything to follow Jesus. This Jesus must be some man.
  • There’s even talk of him being the Messiah. Not just a rabbi, a healer, but a Messiah who’s a friend of tax collectors.
  • Zacchaeus is willing to look the fool for even a glimpse of Jesus. He runs. He climbs a tree. Zacchaeus literally goes out on a limb to get to Jesus.

Imagine all that Zacchaeus is feeling. His chest is pounding from the run and the climb. Jesus and his disciples are coming. Closer. Closer. Then Jesus stops right in front of him.
Their eyes meet. Jesus calls Zacchaeus by name. In front of all those people, Jesus asks if he can come to Zacchaeus’ home. Later, Zacchaeus makes Jesus his home.

Zacchaeus

  • Experiences a complete transformation. Not just part of his life, but the whole.
  • Zacchaeus chooses both repentance and reparation. He turns from walking in his own strength and plan to follow Jesus. (Repentance, Justification) He doesn’t stop there. He wants to make things right, live a new way. (Reparation, Sanctification)
  • Zacchaeus goes out on a limb to see Jesus and out on a limb to follow Jesus fully. He liquidates his war chest to care for the poor and compensate those he defrauded.

This is what our salvation should look like as well: complete transformation, not just part of our lives, not just enough to get into heaven. We turn. We follow. We live a new life. 

earn save give cover

John Wesley, in his sermon entitled The Use of Money, wrote, “Having, first, gained all you can, and, secondly saved all you can, then give all you can.”

  • Gain = Earn. As followers of Jesus, we embrace hard, honest work. Zacchaeus will be looking for a new job or doing his current job in a very different way.
  • Save = Stewardship.  Zacchaeus realizes we are and have belongs to God. We are caretakers. My money, my possessions, my talents, my body, are not my own. As followers of Jesus, we embrace careful, farsighted, faithful management of everything God’s entrusted to us. Zacchaeus’s management will include caring for the poor and making right his old, evil ways.
  • Give = Generous Living

Earn all you can + Save all you can = the ultimate goal of generous living. We can trust and follow and give because Christ has already given everything for us.

Generosity by Steve Garnaas Holmes
True poverty and riches are in our hearts,
not our pockets.

Fear is the only prison that prevents us
from loving deeply,
from giving freely,
from living richly.

Generosity is the power that sets us free.
It melts the prison bars.
It fills the coffers of our hearts.

In generosity, regardless of circumstances,
even the penniless are not poor,
even the destitute are not alone,
even the flat broke are not afraid.

Give everything you have,
and you will be free
and unafraid

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9am Sundays, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recording – Money Management (Luke 12.13-21)

Message: Money Management
Scriptures: Luke 12:13-21
Message 3 of 4 to accompany the study Earn, Save, Give by Rev. James A. Harnish. Offered 1/28/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

oseola mccartyOseola McCarty was born in Hattiesburg Mississippi in 1908, the child of rape. She was raised by her grandmother and aunt who were washerwomen. She joined them in the family business at age 8, learning to wash clothes by hand over an open fire. Oseola left school in the 6th grade to care for her beloved aunt and work full time. She never went back to school and served her neighbors as a washerwoman for 74 years. She never married, never had a child, and never owned a car. When it became possible for her to use a washing machine, she tried it and went back to handwashing clothes. The machine didn’t do as good of a job as she could.

As a child, she began putting some of her small earnings into savings. First, in her doll carriage and later in a savings account she opened herself. In time, she decided to establish a scholarship at the University of Southern Mississippi with $150,000 she’d saved.  She did this at a school that would not have admitted her in the days of segregation.

When asked why, Oseola said, “I’m too old to get an education but they can. I can’t do everything but I can do something to help somebody. And what I can do I will do. I wish I could do more.”

When asked how she accumulated that much money, she said, “It wasn’t hard. I didn’t buy things I didn’t need. The Lord helped me, and he’ll help you, too.”

“I start each day on my knees, saying the Lord’s Prayer. Then I get busy about my work,” McCarty told one interviewer. “You have to accept God the best way you know how and then He’ll show Himself to you. And the more you serve Him, the more able you are to serve Him.”

Look how powerful it can be for a follower of Jesus to be in right relationship with money. Think of the legacy she’s leaving, for future students and as a witness to faithful living. Oseola valued:
1. Hard, honest work
2. The meaningful connection between work, money, and faith
3. That work and managing money wisely are both a blessing, are good for us, are good for the community we live in, and good for the Kingdom of God

Now, look at our scripture for today, Luke 12:13-21. It is a cautionary tale, an example not to follow. The Rich Farmer/Fool’s relationship with money is a twisted trap, the opposite of Oseola’s relationship.

What do you see? Someone who is self-centered

  • Notice the repetition of the words I/my: 10 times in 3 verses
  • Doesn’t think about the common good
  • Literally has a conversation with himself with no regard for discussing plans with his family, business partners, a wise friend, or God
  • Doesn’t attribute his success to anyone else, including his employees or God

There are times when what our society values blends easily with the ways of Jesus. There are times when they bump against one another.

instant gratification cartoonOur society values instant gratification

  • I can have everything I want and I can have it now
  • More, More, More      Mine, Mine Mine
  • $$, Stuff, Consuming = happiness
  • This leads to spending as: a means of entertainment, a pick me up for a bad day, a way of self-medicating and denying hard realities, a way to look successful or “normal”
  • This leads to overspending, living beyond our means
  • Instead of using healthy debt as a tool, we feel crushed by debt, enslaved to debt
  • We experience the burden of too much stuff: how do I store it, care for it, protect it
  • Many live in constant stress because they are one paycheck away, one unexpected expense away from financial disaster.  Many are setting aside little to nothing for emergencies, their future, or the work of God. God gets tips, rather than a tithe.

earn save give cover

Oseola models a different way of living, a better way. John Wesley and the Bible’s thoughts on Money
John Wesley, in his sermon entitled The Use of Money, wrote, “Having, first, gained all you can, and, secondly saved all you can, then give all you can.”

To put it another way, Hard Honest Work partners with Stewardship, the careful, farsighted management of money. The word for that is prudent, like Prudential Insurance.

1. Stewardship
As followers of Jesus, we believe none of it belongs to us. We are caretakers for God’s belongings to use as God would choose.

Jim Harnish puts it this way, “… everything we are and have is a gift from God. That is, the stuff I have—my money, my possessions, my talents, my body—are not my own. They belong to God, the giver of “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17 KJV). They are given to me by the God who trusts me to use everything I am and have in ways that are consistent with the will and way of God.”

2. Careful, Farsighted Money Management (Prudent)
Prudent is not prudish, cheap, stingy, or miserly. It wasn’t wise money management for rich Ebenezer Scrooge to only live in one room of his large house eating gruel every night just as much as it isn’t wise money management to be careless and wasteful like the Prodigal Son.

spending budget percentage dave ramseyPractical Application

  • Be wise and face the facts of your financial situation. Take an honest inventory of what you earn and what you spend.
  • Chose to be a steward. Manage what God’s entrusted to you. Paying attention to it and direct it’s use making wise choices.
  • Embrace the good gifts of simplicity and thrift.
  • Eliminate unhealthy debt
  • Use the guide to establish a healthy, faithful budget

For followers of Christ, the tithe is an essential practice of faithful stewardship. We acknowledge it all already belongs to God. The tithe is to money what Sabbath is to work. In their practice, our words and actions and beliefs align. God, I trust you to provide. I trust you know what is best for me.

We remember Oseola’s testimony like we remember the widow at the treasure, the little boy giving Jesus his lunch, the woman with the costly jar of perfume anointing Jesus. They saved and used those savings as a lasting legacy. Think how we could be telling your story of faithfulness years from now.

monopolyJim Harnish relates the following: I remember the first time I heard John Ortberg tell a story that later became the title of one of his best-selling books. It’s the story of the day he beat his grandmother in Monopoly. He said it happened at Marvin Gardens, where he wiped her off the board. His grandmother had taught him to play the game, and now he had outplayed her. As he relished his victory, she taught him a far more important lesson with these words: When the game is over, it all goes back in the box.18 All the money, properties, houses, and hotels he had acquired weren’t really his. They had been in the box before he played, and they would be there after he stopped. At the end of the day, it all goes back in the box.

Be a wise, faithful steward. Leave a testimony and a legacy.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9am Sundays, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

A Steward’s Prayer (Matthew 24.42-51)

wesley do all you can
Based on Matthew 24:42-51

Son of man, my Master and Lord
You entrust me with responsibilities
With authority and influence
With your treasure and blessings
Thank you for the honor

Help me to be humble and strong and loving and wise
With all you have entrusted to me
Help me to care and tend as you would yourself
So your arrival is a time of great rejoicing
So you find me awake and alert
Caring for the people and projects and possessions
To the best of my ability, magnified by your grace

May my every word and action be faithful to you
May they bring you delight and honor
Now and always, Amen

*****
A Steward’s Prayer  © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

The Gifts of Manna (Exodus 16)

mannaRe-posting two wonderful reflections by Steve Garnaas Holmes based on Exodus 16. In the first he compares God’s provision of manna in the wilderness to those escaping slavery to the steadfast provision of what we need to get through our own wilderness. The second is an important reminder of the dangers of greed. Consider subscribing to his blog, Unfolding Light. – Lisa <><

Exodus 16:13-15
In the morning there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that God has given you to eat.“

What gets you through the desert?
What gets you through?
What gets you through the chemo,
the healing from abuse, the bad marriage,
what gets you through
the job that tries to kill you,
the dark alley of the shadow of death,
the rotten places, the placeless places,
the evil you fear, the evil you’ve done,
your daily inadequacy,
what gets you through?

Some will call it courage or stamina,
luck or faith or reaching down deep.
But you know it’s not you, not yours.
It’s given. To you. For you.
From the Holy One.

The thread you follow,
the source you drink from,
the encouraging voice,
the Divine desire that you thrive,
the gift amid the desolation,
you find it anywhere—
the usual, the impossible,
the unwelcome.
You learn to recognize it.
You learn to receive it.

For that grace that gets you through
you learn to say thank you.

You learn to count on it,
and be surprised,
every morning.
Every morning.

Exodus 16:18-21
Those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed. Some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul. Morning by morning they gathered it,
as much as each needed; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.

God’s vision of justice
is that everyone has what they need.

Manna in the wilderness,
the widow’s jar of meal,
laborers in the vineyard,
feeding the five thousand,
God’s forgiveness upon each heart:
each is given what they need.

It is gift,
that you can’t earn or possess.

Your excess rots in your hands.
What you have beyond your need
you have taken from your neighbor.
It poisons you.

Starve your greed
and feed on justice.
Until all have what they need
even God is hungry.

Christ Have Mercy, a prayer of confession based on Matthew 9.9-13

christe eleisonBased on Matthew 9:9-13

Mercy is not merely feeling sympathy. Mercy is extended by one who has the power to condemn or punish but chooses not to. We choose not to criticize, not to say, “I told you so,” not to exact our “pound of flesh” — not to avenge. As Jesus shows us in his interaction with the woman caught in adultery, mercy does not look back at what the person has done but forward to what the person can do in the future. – Mary Lou Redding. The Power of a Focused Heart: 8 Life Lessons from the Beatitudes

Christ have mercy on me,
a sinner.

I have failed to love as You Love
I have treated others as objects and obstacles
– less than human
– less than made in the image of God

I have elevated goals, persons, and things
to the throne of my heart
I have procrastinated
I have wasted your precious gifts of time and talent and treasure

I am proud in unhealthy ways
I am apathetic
I have raised myself too high… hid myself too low

Trusting in you and your promises
I call on your Mighty Name for mercy
I ask your forgiveness, Gracious Savior
I surrender to your healing, Great Physician
I claim your resurrection power, Risen One

You are already here
Calling me from the old to the new
Speaking my name
Welcoming me to table
Hallelujah! I will follow…

********
Christ Have Mercy, a prayer of confession © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Sermon Recording: Why Care for Creation? (Genesis 1)

plant seedsMessage: Why Care for Creation?
Scripture: Genesis 1-2:3
Click here for the reader’s theatre script for Genesis 1-2:3 used in this recording.

Offered 4/26/15, the Sunday after Earth Day, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

I’m indebted to Richard Rohr’s blog post, The Story That Defines Us, for his rich discussion of the Biblical creation story as compared to the Babylonian creation story found in the Enuma Elish.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Leon and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

© 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Reader’s Theater: The Days of Creation (Genesis 1)

The Days of Creation by Edward Burne-Jones

The Days of Creation by Edward Burne-Jones

Reader’s Theater: The Days of Creation
Scripture: Genesis 1:1-2:3, adapted from the New Revised Standard Version
Parts: 3 Narrators

NARRATOR 1
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said,

ALL NARRATORS
Let there be light

NARRATOR 1
and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

NARRATOR 2
And God said,

ALL NARRATORS
Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.

NARRATOR 2
So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

NARRATOR 3
And God said,

ALL NARRATORS
Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.

NARRATOR 3
And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said,

ALL NARRATORS
Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.

NARRATOR 3
And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

NARRATOR 1
And God said

ALL NARRATORS
Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.

NARRATOR 1
And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

NARRATOR 2
And God said

ALL NARRATORS
Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.

NARRATOR 2
So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying,

ALL NARRATORS
Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.

NARRATOR 2
And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

NARRATOR 3
And God said

ALL NARRATORS
Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.

NARRATOR 3
And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said

ALL NARRATORS
Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.

NARRATOR 3
So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them

ALL NARRATORS
Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.

See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.

NARRATOR 3
And it was so. God saw everything that he had made,

ALL NARRATORS
and indeed, it was very good.

NARRATOR 3
And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

NARRATOR 1
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

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Adapted from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Reader’s Theater: The Days of Creation © 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.