"God Given Gifts" - February 7th, 2021
"But in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you."
1st Peter 3:15
Message of Stewardship
from Jeanette Onorati
Jesus said it's better to give than to receive and we've all heard that before, but without being able to meet in person, we don't have the guilt, the uncomfortableness, that normally comes with the Christians that we see in church sometimes.
We've all heard that church lady come up to us and say, “We haven't seen you in a couple of services. Is everything okay?” So we know that that guilt doesn't need to be there! What we need to do, we know in our hearts.
This is a chance to give silently, like God tells us to do, because we don't have to show everybody what we're giving. We know we can't at this particular point in time, but God knows. He listens in the silence and hears what our gift is. And it'll come back to us a hundred fold. Your gifts build houses for the homeless in Tijuana. They feed the people in our neighborhood. Our preschool? They keep it going! And it gives us a church where each and every one of us are fed and strengthened by the services that we get to attend virtually.
So give silently and give generously. And whatever you do, God will bless you.
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.”
Pastor Michael's Sermon - February 7th, 2021
I once read a story about two brothers. One of the brothers was a concert violinist and the other brother made his living as a bricklayer. One day a woman who was an acquaintance of the bricklayer was speaking to him and she said, “Oh, it must be wonderful to have a brother that's a concert violinist! So much wonderful music!”
But then the woman realized that she might have misspoken. She was afraid that she might have insulted the bricklayer by praising his brother. The woman didn't want to make him feel bad so she quickly added, “Oh, of course, we don't all have the same talents and even in families, some just seem to have more talents than others.”
The bricklayer quickly agreed with her. He said, “Boy, are you telling me! That violin playing brother of mine doesn't know anything about laying bricks! If it wasn't for me, he’d have to pay for all of his brickwork.”
You know, this story reminds us that each ability, each talent serves its purpose.
Each talent is needed for specific tasks. And I believe that we're given our special abilities so that we will use them. Our special abilities show us what we have been called to do.
In today's scripture, Jesus says, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.”
Jesus knew that his job while he was here on Earth was to go out and to proclaim the message. That's what he came to do. His proclaiming of the word was what he was called to do. And the reason his work needed to be done was for the expansion of the realm of God. Not just to make the realm bigger, but also to make the faithful community richer, closer, and stronger.
We too are a part of the enrichment of God's realm and we do it with our talents. We do it by doing what we have been called to do. Now, I would say that all of us are multi-talented. What I mean is there are many things that we do well and even some things that we might even do better than others.
Some people might say that they are not multi-talented. That they feel that they don't have any talents at all or maybe just a few. I would wholeheartedly disagree with that.
Sometimes it's difficult for us to see where we have a talent. One reason is because maybe our talent has always been something that came naturally to us. So we really don't think much about it. For some people, being a good conversationalist comes very easily. Some people have no problem having a rich conversation, even with strangers! And they don't think much about it because it comes so naturally.
On the other hand, for others, meeting people can bring on terrible anxiety and they can become very awkward.
Another reason that we have difficulty seeing our own talents is because the grass is always greener. By that I mean that we envy the talents of others, that we put them on a higher plane than we do our own.
Sometimes I like to draw. When I was younger, I used to draw all the time. As a matter of fact, I actually thought about becoming a commercial artist. Anyway, as an adult I still sometimes draw and when Pastor Bill used to see me drawing, he was fascinated by it.
He would just stare and he'd always say something like, “I don't know how you can look at something and then replicate it on a piece of paper!”
And to that I would always laugh and say, “You've got to be kidding! You can hear a piece of music on television that you've never heard before and go to the piano and play it full-out note for note! That's amazing!”
My point is we all have many, many talents that we might not not even think of as talents, and honestly I believe we were given these talents to use these talents.
They represent what we are supposed to do and as people of faith we have been called to use our talents to enrich the realm of God. That's what we're supposed to do. Now some of us hear this and our first thought might be that we're supposed to use our gifts within the life of the church community. Okay, that's one way of doing it!
When we were back in person worshipping together, there are many places that our talents can be used. We need Sunday school teachers. We need ushers, deacons, board members, people to prepare meals, to do building maintenance, committee members, and so much more.
And of course our talents can also be used in the many ministries of our church. Working in the food pantry, helping to build homes in Mexico, helping out at Hope of the Valley, tending to the community garden, or working with church leaders to create new ministries.
Even now during Covid, you can use your talents singing in the virtual choir, volunteering in the food pantry, doing work around the church, helping out with worship videos, using social media to help us all stay connected.
Our talents are always needed within our church community!
The tasks that go along with the talents are what we are supposed to do. But using our gifts to better the realm of God goes beyond the doors of our church buildings and the ministries of our church community.
We have been called to use our gifts as we walk through our lives, enriching this world to enrich the realm of God. If we have a talent that can help the work of a charitable group, then we can use our gifts there.
We can use our talents for a cause whether its political or social, something that we believe is calling for a change. If our gift is being in a financial situation that
allows us to contribute funds, we can do so to both charitable groups and to groups working for a cause. What we need to do is to think about what means something to us and how we believe a change could strengthen and empower God's world and God's realm. And then we ask ourselves, what gifts have I been given that can benefit that change?
Again the tasks that go along with our talents are what we are supposed to do.
There are many other ways that we can use our gifts to strengthen the realm of God. The talents that we give can go way beyond things like singing, or building, or teaching, or organizing. Some of our gifts seem very simple, but they can make a huge impact.
For instance the gift of being able to listen to people. I mean really listen to people! If you are someone who can really listen then you are someone who can make people feel heard and that is really important because for some people feeling heard is what they want most.
I think it's actually more than just some people. Even just listening is caring for others and that strengthens the realm of God.
There are so many ways that we can use our gifts. I encourage you this week to really think about what it is that God has given to you. What God has gifted to you! And then think about how that gift, those gifts, can be used.
We cannot waste the talents that God has bestowed upon us. They are what we are supposed to do. God has gifted us and what we do with those gifts to make God's world a better place is how we gift God in return.
Holy God, allow us to realize what you have given to us and allow us to use these strengths to glorify your name. It's in your son's name we pray.