Sermon – August 31, 2014

Community - Letters to the Church in CorinthA Community Shares its Resources,” by Rev. Peter von Herrmann

Sermon Series: Community – Letters to the Church in Corinth

Catching up.

For many people, Labor Day marks the end of the summer and the beginning of fall. As summer ends, many church members begin calculating how much they need to give to “catch up” on their pledge. We all intend to give weekly, but during the course of the summer we miss worship on Sundays and then don’t remember to “catch up” until fall begins.

As he writes to the church in Corinth, Paul reminds the church in Corinth to “catch up” on their giving to the offering for the poor in Jerusalem. This offering, which Paul collected from Gentile churches around the Roman Empire, was an important part of creating unity within the Christian church as a whole. The Corinthians had expressed enthusiasm at supporting this offering. Now, Paul was encouraging them to live up to their pledge.

We often make pledges and then, for whatever reason, “fall behind.” Maybe we have pledged to write an encouraging note, maybe to complete a project, maybe to support an important charity. Each moment, though, offers an opportunity to catch up with those pledges. Let’s think about how we can help others, and then not just talk about it, but be faithful to complete the tasks that God has set before us.

—Peter von Herrmann

The Word

2 Corinthians 8:1-14

We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints— and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you. Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you—so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.

I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something— now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have. I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance.

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