God Doesn’t Want Your
Money but God Does Want Your Worship
I hope you noticed in the bulletin and
Interface that our October sermon series is called “God doesn’t want your
money, but we are asking for it anyway”.
We had thought to name it just “God Doesn’t
Want Your Money”, but then thought better of it.
Because while God does not need your
money, JMPC does.
And this is the time or year where we
ask for it.
Why do we need your money?
Because ther are financial costs to do
what we do.
What do we do?
We – as in everyone here along with
everyone who financially supports JMPC – use that money to change lives for the
And as I have said in prior years, we
are allowed to ask, “Are we doing that?”
Here is my answer.
If changing lives is what we at JMPC
want, if people see that we are successful, they are likely to give us more
money so that we can change more lives.
And that is what is happening here.
Folks must be seeing changed lives
because financial support for JMPC has been going up over the last few years.
In fact, this year, JMPC has been able
to take the money given to us to expand the funding for our missions and
ministries to the highest levels since I have been your pastor.
I think that is awesome!
Now the bylaws of JMPC don’t permit me
to know who gives what to the church, so I can’t write each of you a thank you
note, though I would like to.
So instead, I want to take the time to
offer you my personal thanks for giving JMPC the ability to be salt and light
in a world that is often tasteless and dark.
But there are other people I need to
thank who are known to me, and everyone else at JMPC.
The people who show up and give their time
A couple years ago I went on and on
about “doing just one thing” here at JMPC, and telling you that doing one thing
might change the world, or at least a little part of it.
Those “one things” have included
everything from stuffing envelopes to staying overnight at Family Promise, to
cooking a meal for Duquesne Kids Club, to teaching Children’s church, to
leading Bible study, to setting up and tearing down the Christmas affair, to
gardening, tree planting, to singing in the choir, to just showing up for
You get the picture.
All of us are doing our part to make
people’s lives better.
And maybe changing the world, just a
little bit at a time.
All this giving is sometimes hard.
Sometimes it even feels sacrificial.
So why do we do it?
What makes us want to change lives?
Because God did it for us.
And we do give of our money, time and abilities
as a response to what God has done for us.
And we do as much as we can because God
has been generous and we want to be as generous as we can, too.
This is the Jesus way.
The word that summarizes our response to God is “gratitude”.
I am grateful to God.
I am grateful to you.
And maybe we should thank each other by giving ourselves a
hand for all this generous gratitude.
Recently, I read Diana Butler Bass’ book “Grateful: The
Transformative Power of Giving Thanks.
It turns out that we actually need to learn how to express
She tells the story about how she hated writing thank you
notes when she was a little girl.
Her mom made her, but she did not like it.
Yet she knew it was the right thing to do.
So she tried to teach her own daughter to write thank you
Her daughter did not like it either.
Surveys show that not many people do.
But we need to, right?
We need to express our gratitude, right?
But sometimes we just don’t know how.
It has always been this way.
The Roman Christians in Paul’s day had a bit of trouble with
this gratitude thing.
Sure, they were grateful that Jesus had died for them and
that they were promised entry into the Kingdom of God, but they really didn’t
know how to express it.
So, Paul tells them how.
Paul says that we demonstrate our gratitude through worship.
Here is what Paul tells the Roman Christians.
Roman 12: 1-8
appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present
your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your
spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this
world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may
discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself
more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each
according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4For
as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same
function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and
individually we are members one of another. 6We have gifts that
differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to
faith; 7ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in
teaching; 8the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in
generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
Jeff, you say, that doesn’t sound much like worship.
what Paul is saying is that worship is more than showing up to church on
Sunday, though that is part of it.
is so much more.
is describing worship to the Roman Christian community.
should worship be like?
should be done in community.
“followers of the Way” were to gather in someone’s home, take part in a
communal meal much like the last supper, sing psalms, hear a “prophetic
message”, and share what they have with those who were in need.
is what Paul is describing in our text.
response to all God has done, the people were to worship.
were to be grateful.
were to present their bodies as living sacrifices.
were to come not to die for God, though many would, but to live for God.
to live for God meant that they were to reject the philosophy of the world that
minds would then be renewed.
would be transformed!
is how they were to respond to God’s great mercies.
there is something else.
tells the Romans that they should not think too much of themselves as
should not think that worship is something they can do alone adequately.
of us must recognize our limitations.
individual can do all that worship requires alone.
as a community, there are fewer limitations.
teaches that when each member of the congregation offers their individual gift
to the worship experience, worship is the full expression of gratitude.
worship is a community event.
we can glorify God individually.
can meditate on God and scripture all by ourselves and feel connected to God.
devotions are good.
worship requires community.
is what I mean:
Dykstra and Dorothy Bass wrote an article for the book “Practicing our Faith”.
that article they tell a story about a man who attended the funeral of his
father who was a Methodist minister.
man was distraught in grief and could not bring himself to sing the hymns
offered at the service to accompany his father into the presence of God.
the man realized that the congregation sang those hymns not only for themselves
in their grief, but for him who could not.
worshiping community filled the gap of his inability to fully participate
caused by his grief.
is why I love this story Lutheran Pastor Nadia Boltz Weber tells.
woman came to her and said she could not recite the Apostle’s Creed.
The woman said:
… I don’t know if I
believe this. … I can’t say the Creed because I don’t know if I believe every
line in the Creed.
Boltz Weber responded:
… oh, my God. Nobody believes every line of the
Creed. But in a room of people, for each line of the Creed, somebody believes
it. So, we’re covered, right?
might find that heretical, but I find it comforting.
Emmons, in his book “Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You
Happier”, says this:
takes us outside ourselves where we see ourselves part of a larger, intricate
network of sustaining relationships, relationships that are mutually
calls all of this communal worship.
is our grateful response to God as best we can offer it.
what it’s like here at JMPC.
of us can do everything, but in a congregation of people, for each part of
worship, somebody steps up to fill all the gaps.
is what Paul is talking about.
year we have had Matt, me, John Welsh, Debbie Evanovich, Jenn Frayer, Leann
Fuller and Silas Ncozana.
have all kinds of ministry, from gardening, to flood relief, to birthing
babies, to supporting mothers in rehab, to comforting the bereaved, to praying
our joys and concerns … you get the picture.
have teachers in Children’s church, Bible study and youth groups.
have enthusiastic leaders on our Session, Deacons and various ministry teams.
as I said at the outset, we have generous financial supporters.
this, Paul says, is how we respond to God with gratitude for all God has done
are a grateful community.
what does all this have to do with financial support?
of this happens without it.
like the Roman Christians, Paul tells us we have to share what we have so that
the community we call JMPC can do what it is called to do.
give a lot.
not so much.
we all need to give something.
goal this year is that everyone give some financial support.
you have not given in the past, give something this year.
you have given in the past, we are asking that we increase our gifts by 3%.
think about that as we come to this table.
is the table that symbolizes the great gift we received from God through his
gift for which we need to say, “thank you”.
we do that, we can respond even more emphatically to God’s great gift in 2020.
is an act of worship to the living and giving God.