Pastor Jim Kniseley presented this sermon at Resurrection on March 27, 2011, the Third Sunday of Lent. The video is “A Way of Life” and is part of the ELCA Stewardship Program, Make It Simple. The theme of Resurrection’s Stewardship Appeal is “Share God’s Blessings…Imagine the Possibilities!”
Fred and Connie Claycomb are living a life of simplicity and generosity. They raise vegetables on their 10 acres of land near Bedford, Pennsylvania. The sign next to the collection basket at their roadside stand reads, “please help yourself and put your money in the basket.” Some of the wisdom this fine Christian couple shares includes:
· “live a simple life and don’t let things get too complicated”
· “God provides for every need that I have”
· “you can’t outgive God”
The best part of this video is the unspoken. Seeing them work with their very young grandsons on the farm and knowing they are imparting their values to them is invaluable.
You and I can live a life of simplicity and generosity. It doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. The values that we are hearing today from Fred and Connie Claycomb are good and wholesome values. They are based in biblical teaching and they are very much Christ-centered.
Many of us here today have lived the supposed American dream. We’ve accumulated lots of stuff. Some of us know what it means to buy a larger house just so our stuff will fit into it. Some of us here know how difficult it becomes when we need to downsize and move into a smaller house. What to do with our stuff?
I think that Fred and Connie are talking about much more than just stuff. They are talking about an attitude, a philosophy about life. It is something they want desperately to pass on to their family, including those adorable two grandsons.
They want to live in such a way that they can know first-hand the generosity of the Lord. Connie says as she looks back on her life, “God provided for every need that I had.” These two are not being unmindful or unrealistic about their life. Fred says that there have been some very rough years for them financially. They attribute their getting through those rough times to God’s leading them and being with them.
This is a couple that wants to be generous in their giving back to the Lord. Some might advise them to forget giving to the church or other worthy causes and just take care of their own needs. But listen to their experience. They express well what Jesus and St. Paul say over and over again. Fred says “you can’t outgive God…the more you give, it seems, the more is provided.” Mark Allen Powell shares another quote that seem appropriate, “At the end of your life what is important is not what you’ve accumulated, but what you’ve given away.”
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat’ or ‘what shall we wear?’…But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
St. Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians, “I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need . I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
The Resurrection Guiding Principle that we can look to today is this one: Jesus is Lord and Savior – in all that we say and do we serve Jesus, for by His grace we are saved through faith.
Just think about what we’re declaring: Jesus is Lord and Savior, and our life and actions show others that we truly believe it. We trust in God and our words and actions are a witness.
The image I want to leave with you today is one from the video. It is the Claycomb’s roadside stand that is open 24 hours per day and I want us to particularly focus on the basket with the sign that reads “please help yourself and put your money in the basket.”
· I want to live in a world in which I can attribute all I have as a gift from God.
· I want to live in a world in which I can not only not worry, but I can be generous in sharing with others.
· I want to live in a community in which we can trust one another.
· I want to live in a world in which I don’t care if someone in need takes some of my vegetables and doesn’t leave payment in the basket.
· I want to live in a world in which love is expressed not just in words but also in actions.
RLC: God’s Purpose for Resurrection Lutheran Church is to Reflect the Love of Christ by Reaching, Loving and Caring. To the Power of Three: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen!