Worshiping the Triune God: The Offering

Last week we finished a sermon series on Stewardship in our church called, “The Joy of Generosity,” by Robert Heerspink. In the last sermon we were invited to give generously to the poor with cheerful hearts out of gratitude for God’s salvation through Christ.  This kind of joyful giving occurs in many areas of life, but in the context of the worship service, it often happens through the Offering.  Now some churches take the offering after the sermon, which is a practical way of thanking God for his Word proclaimed.  But we happen to do it after the Renewal, which is another appropriate place for it, as we’ve just confessed our sin and have been reminded of God’s grace.  So, out of gratitude for salvation through Christ, we give generously to God.  As we read in The Worship Sourcebook, “The offering is a vital part of our response to God and God’s Word.  It helps us connect our adoration for God with our life of discipleship.  The money given at the offering is a token and symbol of our desire to devote our whole selves to God’s service in response to God’s loving faithfulness to us.” (241)  As followers of Christ we are called to offer up our bodies as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1).  Seems to me that giving our money to God is a practical way to offer up our bodies to God.  That doesn’t mean it’s easy, of course.  It can be hard to give away our hard earned money, especially when budgets are tight.  But this is a worthy sacrifice to make when we consider the sacrifice that God made in giving up his Son for us.  So, let us continue giving generously to the poor with cheerful hearts out of gratitude for God’s salvation through Christ.

 

Gratitude is the Heart of the Christian Life

(Note: A revised version of following article first appeared in the Oct. 6 issue of the Lacombe Express.)

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever.”  (Psalm 136:1 NIV)

Gratitude is the heart of the Christian life.  These aren’t my words, but I believe them with all my heart.  Actually, they were spoken by Thomas Merton (1915-1968), a Christian mystic who wrote in the twentieth century.  As he writes, “Gratitude is therefore the heart of the solitary life, as it is the heart of the Christian life. . .”  Apparently Merton wrote these words during a time of solitude, when, upon reflection, he realized how much God had blessed him.  Also, as Pastor Craig Barnes writes, “Gratitude may be the best measure of our spirituality.”  Why is this?  Because gratitude demonstrates that we have been paying attention to the gifts we have received.  Especially the gift of grace we have received in Jesus Christ.

So, if gratitude is so important, if it is the heart of the Christian life, it begs the questions: Am I grateful?  And for what am I grateful?  I recall asking a group of people what they were thankful for.  And they all responded, “I’m grateful for everything.”  But there’s a sense: if we’re grateful for everything, than we’re grateful for nothing.  So, what are you thankful for?  I am thankful for the privilege of serving a small strong congregation in a warm and welcoming city.  I’m thankful for all the rights and freedoms we enjoy as Canadians.  I’m thankful for good friends and neighbors.  I’m also thankful for the trail system of our city and the strength to run these trails.

As Don Postema writes, “Gratitude takes nothing for granted.  It acknowledges each favor, each gift—both big and small.  It also recognizes the giver—the relative who shows her love by giving you a gift; the friend who remembers to call you; the person who gives you a compliment or goes out of his way to invite you to go for a walk on a beautiful day; the spouse or friend who brings you a cup of coffee when you’re exhausted, cooks you a fine dinner, or throws a party for you.”

When we stop to think about it, we have received many gifts from many people, and especially from God.  We have much to be thankful for.  However, often we are too busy to see it.  This is what makes Thanksgiving Day so important, because on this day we are given the time and space we need to recognize the gifts and the givers of those gifts.  So, in this season of thanksgiving, you’re invited to thank others for specific gifts received.  And you’re invited to thank God for the many gifts he has given you, especially for the gift of grace in Jesus Christ.