Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father.
Today’s Gospel lesson is Mark 10:17-31. Jesus and a rich young man were discussing what the young man must do to inherit eternal life. He replied that he had followed the commandments all of his life. Jesus knew that the man’s wealth was an obstacle and told him to sell everything and give to the poor. Then the man would have “treasure in heaven.” He could not do that and so went away sad.
Most of us here at Christ Church do not consider ourselves “wealthy”. Why did Jesus say that it was difficult for the rich man to enter the kingdom? Could it be that often the rich are focused on accumulating wealth (and perhaps the power or prestige) that it brings them instead of focusing on the Lord? It is not a sin to be rich. What matters is what you do with your financial blessings and what is important in your life.
What is a “tithe”? It is returning the “first fruits” or 10% to God. Remember that he has endowed us with skills to earn our income. In Genesis 28:22 following Jacob’s dream, he vowed to give to God a tenth. When we give back 10% to God, we can keep 90% for our own use. Does that sound like a good deal?
During this month of October, there will be a focus on Stewardship. The committee asks you to prayerfully consider what you are able to pledge for the coming year.
Every Perfect Gift
As we begin our focus on Stewardship, here at Christ Church this year, we are encouraged to consider one of Jesus' most familiar word pictures - I Am The Bread of Life - and our response.
All through August we depart from Mark’s gospel in the Lectionary and explore the analogy of Bread and Body with John the Evangelist. The more Jesus asserts that he is the Bread of Life, that came down from Heaven, the more urgent the opposition to this teaching becomes. Even his disciples begin to question it. “This teaching is difficult,” they observe, “who can accept it?”
Just a short while earlier the disciples witnessed and accepted a miracle that caused Jesus to bring forward abundance from a few scant loaves of bread. Why can they now not accept that Jesus compares himself with that heaven-sent miracle? Jesus offers himself to be miraculously created, broken, and shared to the nourishment of the whole world, and this is the teaching that we, his disciples, find “too difficult.”
The temple authorities and the Pharisees object to this on theological grounds, as they perceive Jesus to be coming too close to blasphemy by comparing himself to the manna that sustained their forebears in the wilderness. But what excuse do we have?
Perhaps we are disturbed by a more personal and more complicated truth. If Jesus offers himself to be broken and shared, what does that mean for those who follow him? What is our role in feeding, caring for, saving the world? Deep down we know the answer. We also must be willing to be blessed, broken, and shared in order to accomplish God’s saving work in the world. This is, in fact, a difficult teaching.
Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above.