Teaching on Sundays really isn’t one of my favorite things. Even though I only do it once in a while, I usually start getting nervous about it three weeks in advance.
By the Thursday before I teach, I have usually done three things:
1) Prayed “Please help me, God” without ceasing.
2) Written my resignation email to Bob (I have yet to actually hit the ‘send’ button).
3) Curled up on the floor and cried.
Needless to say, preparing a message for Sunday is very stressful for me. I don’t know why. It has gotten better lately, and I feel much more comfortable speaking up there than I used to.
Most of the time, after I preach I usually think of all the things I could have done better. Whether it was explaining things a bit more clearer, emphasizing God’s grace more, or simply just being less boring.
Those things I am usually able to work on getting better the next time around.
However, this past Sunday I said something that I wanted to clarify right away, and not just work on it for next time. I wasn’t sure if it was that big of a deal at first, but the more I thought and prayed about it this week, the more it became obvious that the point needed to be clarified.
After we read through 1 Timothy 6:17-19, which is Paul’s encouragement to Timothy to teach the rich people in his church to be generous, I said something like, “If you’re thinking you’re not rich, so this passage doesn’t apply to you, think again- because about 90% of the rest of the world would view each of us sitting here as rich- so this passage is for each of us sitting here.”
I still agree with that statement, and especially how as followers of Jesus, we are all to grow in generosity- but I feel I did a disservice to those who really do struggle financially. Whether it’s not being able to find a job, or not being able to put food on the table even if you have a job, to paying enormous medical bills and all the concerns that go with having a low income, being poor, or even uninsured in our country- by no means did I want to invalidate that.
On the contrary Psalm 113 says this:
7 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
8 he seats them with princes,
with the princes of his people.
9 He settles the childless woman in her home
as a happy mother of children.
Praise the LORD.
We see God’s heart here for those who are poor, those who are needy, those who are in distress- we see a God who provides, delivers, and comforts. It’s not just the 90% of the rest of the world that can pray this- it’s all of us who are in need, whether it be financially and materially, or simply in the acknowledgement that we have nothing aside from God’s grace.
Not too many people may know this, but aside from the different projects we do to serve those in need in our community (i.e. sharing coats, back to school supplies, etc), 2% of all general tithes and offerings that come in each Sunday we put in our Benevolence Fund. This fund is used to help those in our church and outside the church as different needs arise- whether it’s purchasing groceries, paying rent or bills, or with any financial need we can help with.
It’s one way we hope to partner with God in being a blessing to everyone.
I hope that clarified things a bit more, and at the least gave you some insight into how we as a church try to meet the needs of both those who currently attend the Vineyard and those in the Ithaca community.
What do you think about all this?