Two cents, no fair shares, willing hearts, and burying seed in the ground. That’s what we have before us on this Commitment Sunday for our annual stewardship campaign. Jesus’ story of the generous widow (Mark 12:38-44), the Israelites’ willing generosity to build the tabernacle and mercy seat (Exodus 35:4-5a, 20-29), and the Apostle Paul’s challenge for us to sow abundantly (2 Corinthians 9:6-15) guide us through the territory of growing our generosity. The goal is not raising funds, but raising faith. Will you accept the invitation?
“Church” is not a building. It is no ordinary gathering. “Church” is a “holy partnership in a heavenly calling” (Hebrews 3:1-6). We are called to be the people among whom and through whom the world can encounter the mercy of Jesus. But often that’s not what the reality of “church” looks like. Our Gospel story from Mark 11:15-19 gives us insight why. Will we settle for a faith that is easy and convenient? Or will we make the sacrifices necessary for our life together truly to be mercy’s house?
Two stories about houses from this week’s readings, 1 Kings 1:1-10 and Luke 12:13-34, feature two very different approaches to creating a foundation for your life and faith. As part of our sermon series on generosity, called “Building Mercy’s House,” Pastor Paige explored King Solomon’s example of seeking God first, before seeking wealth. She contrasted that with the rich man in Jesus’ parable whose focus was building bigger barns to preserve his abundant crops for himself. Solomon’s approach helps us understand how we can be generous with everything that God has given us, and how we can build mercy’s house for the sake of our community.
In this sermon, we begin our annual stewardship campaign with the theme “Building Mercy’s House.” The place where God will meet the world is mercy. Not condemnation, not judgment, but grace and peace and healing. How will the world ever know, though? It is the call of the church to build mercy’s house, to create the place where the world can encounter the never-ending love of Christ. In Exodus 25:1-22, we discover how God calls us into this holy, glorious work of generosity and sacrifice so that the world may know the love of Jesus.
The theme behind this series, “becoming the person you were created to be,” can sound self-centered, as if being a follower of Jesus is all about becoming a better you. Today, though, in this sermon based on Mark 8:27-38, we come to the heart of the matter. We are not made for ourselves; we are made for others. Our deepest joy and highest purpose will not be found if we chase joy or purpose; they will only be found when we give ourselves away. That is the path to life that is real. It is the way of following Jesus.