Spoons & Ladles – Pastor Robert’s sermons for Sunday, October 8

Evan’s generous gift challenged the way Frank had been living his life as he realized that he wasn’t giving God his first and best. Instead, he had been giving God his leftovers after all of his needs and wants were met.

In last Sunday’s video segment, Frank had this crazy dream that his money could talk. As his dream progressed through a very unusual court case, Frank was sentenced as guilty, that he was loving his money and things more than God. That dream prompted Frank to start thinking about his priorities.

This leads us to our video today. Let’s watch the continuing saga of the life of Frank Donovan.

[Due to copyright issues, we are not permitted to post the video.]

I can’t think of too many people who would be willing to give away everything and become poor. Our culture tells us to accumulate and that we can never have enough.

This is what makes our scripture reading from II Corinthians stand out for us. The Apostle Paul tells us that Jesus was once rich but he voluntarily became poor for our sake so that through his poverty, we might become rich.

Just think about that for a moment. Jesus left the glory and the riches of heaven in order to become a human being like you and me; a human being who would face temptations, a human being who would face heartache, a human being who would experience hunger, a human being who would experience suffering and even death on a cross.

That’s hard for our minds to fathom. Why would Jesus give up all of the blessings and glories of heaven just so that he could become a human being like us? Is this not the question we ponder every year at Christmas, the mystery of the incarnation, the mystery of God taking on human form?  This is Paul’s focus in this scripture passage. Jesus was willing to become poor so that we would become rich.

My dad used to say to me that he and mom were the happiest when they were poor. And then he would always deliver the punch line. “Which means we have always been happy.”

My parents weren’t poor, but they weren’t rich either. They were happy because they were grateful for what they had. They left a legacy of being generous givers to the church and to people who were in need.

I think this is what Frank learned from our video segment this morning. He learned that generosity does not come from our excess, but from our essence.

He learned this from Re, his gardner who gave the bonus money that Frank had given him to the soup kitchen. Re was generous because he gave from his heart.

While giving money is one of the ways we can live generously, Re helps Frank to take it one step further when he invites him to actually serve. Frank didn’t come dressed for the occasion, but it wasn’t long before he set aside his suit jacket, rolled up his sleeves and began serving in the kitchen.

By serving in the kitchen instead of just writing out a check, Frank was able to get to know the people he was serving. He had a conversation with one of the men at the meal and they established a relationship.

This makes me think of our Gospel reading for today where Jesus was walking through a great crowd of people. Out of all of the people who were reaching out to him, Jesus notices this one person who needed to be healed. He could have kept on walking but he stopped to listen to her need and he healed her.

Jesus shows us that we are to get to know the people around us. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to see the same people in our daily activities without really getting to know them? It’s when we stop to get to know someone, that we receive a blessing. And hopefully, we become a blessing to them.

By serving at the soup kitchen, Frank went from seeing the poor to seeing people. When we are willing to humble ourselves and serve, we take the next step in our journey of generous living. We remove our own pride from the equation and see with the eyes of God.

One final thought from our video this morning. I like how Re explained the difference between a spoon and a ladle. A spoon is meant to feed ourselves and a ladle is what we use to serve others.

As you leave this morning, there will be somebody handing you a plastic spoon to take home with you. I wanted each of us to take home a ladle but that just wasn’t feasible.

I need to use your imagination and pretend that the white plastic spoon is really a ladle. During this next week, I want you to keep that spoon in a place where you will see it. This spoon is to remind us to live generously.

What if each one of us would serve three different people on three different occasions this week? Here are some very simple ideas on how you might serve.

It could be letting someone jump in line in front of you at the store. It could be helping someone carry something. It could be picking up someone and taking them somewhere. It could be serving someone in your family in a way that they weren’t expecting. It could be serving in a ministry through our church which many of you are already doing.

But here’s the thing. When we serve, let’s remember that the person we are serving is a child of God. Let’s remember that serving isn’t just about doing something for somebody else. It’s about letting them know that we want to get to know them. That’s what Re was teaching Frank in our video this morning.

I know it’s going to be a temptation to use this spoon to eat some ice cream. Or maybe, we will be tempted to just throw this spoon away and forget about today’s message.

So, think about this. If we usually have around 160 people who come to our worship services, that means that potentially in just one week, we will have intentionally served 480 people. So don’t throw your spoon away until you served at least three different people on three different occasions this week.

The good news of our faith is that God sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins so that we might live abundantly. This is what we celebrate every week in worship. We are a people who are called to share this good news with others.

Just as Jesus Christ emptied himself, we are called to become poor so that others may become rich.

This week, when you look at your plastic spoon, ask yourself, “Where is God calling me to roll up my sleeves and serve somebody else?”

Today’s video shows us that Frank is futher along on the path in learning what it means to live generously.

Next Sunday, Frank is going to learn the importance of living generously even when it feels like the ground is falling out from beneath him. It’s a story that we won’t want to miss.

Living Generously: Ladles & Spoons

Discussion Questions

II Corinthians 8:8-15 & Luke 8:40-48

October 8, 2017

For the past three Sundays, we have been following the life of Frank Donovan and his family as they discover what it means to live generously. In the video segment this week, Frank learns what it means to be generous by reluctantly serving at a soup kitchen where he not only serves but he also gets to know the people who eat there.

Why do you think it’s important to not only “donate” money but to also build relationships with people who are in need of the basic necessities of life? What blessing are we missing if we only give money without getting to know the people we are seeking to bless?

One of our scripture readings is this verse from the Apostle Paul. “For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. –  II Corinthians 8:9

How do you feel “rich” because of Christ’s willingness to become poor for our sake?

Plastic spoons were handed to people in worship. We were told that the spoon is to symbolize the serving ladle that Re, the gardener gave to Frank Donovan in the video. We are to keep the spoon so it reminds us to serve the needs of at least three different people in a Christ-like way this week.

Brainstorm some ways that God may be calling you to serve others this week. Is God calling your small group to serve in some way?