Gifts from God

Sermon Reflection Respectfully Submitted by Brenda Worley| Sunday, October 28, 2018

This Sunday was a glorious day…the beautiful fall weather, the great music, the wonderful sermon, the gratefulness expressed in the presentation of our commitment to this holy place, the good “soul” food and the warm fellowship.  Thank you to everyone who made it happen.

Mother Mary opened her sermon by asking the congregation to read in unison a prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.  The prayer is quoted below and is all about GIVING!

Lord, make us instruments of your peace;

Where there is hatred, let us sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is discord, union;

Where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.  AMEN

It is astounding that we have the power through Christ to give love, to give pardon, to give union, to give faith, to give hope, to give light, to give joy!  Obviously, having Christ on our side is our superpower!  The line that says it all is “For it is in giving that we receive.”  Realizing that every gift we have comes from God and participating in the cycle of gratitude leads us to the wholeness of life.

Last Sunday we learned about the cycle of giving from Father Spencer when he shared the stories of his grandmother, Lily.  During the past few Sundays we have heard testimonies of gratitude shared by our speakers and writers sponsored by the Stewardship Ministry.  Dan Bennett started it all with a wonderful message about how grateful he is and how this gratitude can only be expressed in giving back part of the gifts he has received.  In her article Maribeth Zane shared her story of healing and how Jesus showed up every time she needed him.  This made her very grateful and led her to choose Ascension as her home where she can give back.  Lindy Agan, in her writing and speaking, shared her gratefulness for the life of her daughter, Caroline, and for this parish who showed up through the Pastoral Care Ministry to provide for her needs.  This presence reminded her that Jesus is love and that he is with her and her family all the time.  John Youd felt safe here with us to share how his life has been shaped by the choices he has made and how the gift of his faith helped make the changes that have sustained his life.  These wonderful speakers and writers laid themselves open and gave us the inspiration of their gratitude.

The gospel of the day was the story of the blind man, Bartimaeus, who was healed of his blindness because of his faithfulness. Upon receiving this gift of healing, Bartimaeus followed Jesus.  In following he was willing to give back the love that had been given to him.   

Mother Mary shared the gist of an unsolicited testimony she received in the form of a letter from a choir member.  This person shared that on a recent Sunday as Lindy Agan spoke to the congregation and Caroline, her daughter, cooed her baby sounds, he was struck by the realization of the gift of prayer.  He shared that this life altering gift, the view of God as love, began during his confirmation class and has ended a lifelong view through a lens of guilt and shame.  He announced that the gifts he gives of voice and money “are like a grain of sand compared to the beach of sand I’ve been given.”  He felt that his ability to give was itself the gift. 

How do you view your gifts from God?  Are you willing to share those gifts with others to begin the work of doing His will on Earth as in Heaven?  Are you willing to empty yourself for the sake of others?