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Our sermons are available as audio files to listen at your convenience.
Stewardship Sermon Series: “Love in Action: Reflecting Christ’s Love and Mercy”
Sermon #4: “Love in Action through Serving”
Acts 2: 42-47
October 24, 2021
Stewardship Dedication Day
It has been said, “The two most important days in our life are the day we are born, and the day we discover why we were born.”1 The day we were born and the day we discover why we were born. As Christians, we know that we were born to love and serve the Lord our God, and to love and serve God’s people. This is how we transform creation and humanity: when we share in God’s good work in the world.
This has been so from the beginning of the church, as we heard in our passage from Acts chapter two. I love this passage depicting the life of the early church. The believers were devoted to spending time with one another, worshiping together, learning together, caring for one another, and serving together. It is a wonderful passage to sum up our Stewardship Series based on the church mission statement: “MPC is called to reflect Christ’s love and mercy by worshiping, engaging, growing and serving.” Each Sunday, we have focused on one aspect of our mission, and today, Stewardship Dedication Day, we culminate this series with the idea of serving. Our mission says, “MPC is called to reflect Christ’s love and mercy by SERVING, caring for each other and reaching out to the world God loves, seeking to understand and respond to needs.”
Service is the natural result of the other three points: when we worship the Lord, realizing how much God loves us; when we engage the whole church in outreach; when we grow and learn together, all of that can’t help but overflow in service.
The earliest Christians provide an example for us to follow. The word in verse 42 that’s translated in our text as “devoted” is emphatic, indicating perseverance and zeal!2 This passage follows the birth of the church on Pentecost, and in it we see that the believers all were united in being the body of Christ together. Listen to how many times the word “all” is used: Awe came upon ALL the people. ALL who believed were together. They had ALL things in common, selling their possessions and distributing the proceeds to ALL. They had the goodwill of ALL the people. They gave of themselves to help one another so that no one was in need.
Is it any wonder that “day by day, the Lord added to their number those who were being saved?”
In Stewardship Season, we are reminded of our Christian purpose: like those first believers, to do God’s work in the world. There is no greater investment than to give ourselves to this; no higher calling than to love and serve God and others.
Our first reading from Matthew’s gospel echoes that: Where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also. We invest in what means the most to us, and when we invest in the things of God’s kingdom, instead of the things of the world, we have no greater reward.
How often do we human beings get confused about our investments? Too many times we try to store up treasure on earth, forgetting the truth that you can’t take it with you; or, as Jesus said in Matthew 6, “moth and rust consume and thieves break in and steal.”
You may have seen the commercial about the dog who was frantically worried about his bone. He carried it around looking for a safe place to hide it; he buried it, then worried that something might happen to it, and so dug it up and reburied it. Over and over again, he dug up and reburied his bone, because of his fear that he might lose it.
If our greatest investments are in earthly things, we may worry about their security. Nothing on this earth will last. Only when our treasure is in heaven do we have a guarantee of its permanence.
I am reminded of a story by the wise preacher Fred Craddock. Craddock said that one day he went to visit a friend who had an adopted greyhound, a beautiful creature of dappled grey. The dog lay happily on the floor while a toddler pulled his tail and an older child used his side as a pillow. He looked so content. So Fred asked him, “You seem so happy here. Do you still do any racing?”
“No,” the dog answered, “I gave all that up.”
“What was the matter,” Fred asked, “did you get too old?”
“No,” the dog said, “I’m still in my prime.”
“Well then, were you not winning?”
“No,” the dog replied, “I won over a million dollars in my career.”
“Well, then what happened? Why did you stop?”
And the dog said, “I just quit. One day I discovered that what I was chasing was not really a rabbit. And I quit. . . All that running, running, running, running, and what I was chasing was not even real.”3
How often do we human beings invest in chasing what is not even real? We give our time, energy, resources to things that do not last, that do not really matter. There’s a saying, “Never give your love to something that can’t love you back.”
When we invest in the things of God, by giving ourselves to others, sharing with those in need, working at things that make a difference, we have found our purpose. And through our service, people come to know the love of God.
The two most important days in our life are the day we are born and the day we discover why we were born. When we know that we are children of God, beloved by the one who loves us so much that God put on flesh to live among us in the person of Jesus Christ, who loved not cautiously but extravagantly, as our text last week said; how can we not love God and others? How can we not give everything that we are and everything that we have to love as Christ loves---wholeheartedly, exuberantly, extravagantly, joyfully!
On Stewardship Dedication Day, we commit ourselves once again to love of God and neighbor. We commit ourselves once again to the work and ministry of the church. We commit ourselves to fulfill the mission God has given us as Manassas Presbyterian Church: a mission to worship, engage, grow and serve, as we imitate Christ and reflect Christ’s love and mercy.
God takes our commitment, our self-offering, and uses that to be the tangible means of grace and love. Our offerings don’t just stay in the church; they take God’s love out into the world.
VIDEO PLAYS HERE: [A video demonstrates how the offerings we give in church go out to make a difference in the world.] This video can be seen in the full service video, in our video library on the main page of the website.
Think of all the ways this church shares God’s love through service: The work of the Deacons, who so faithfully care for their flocks, visiting those who are sick, homebound, in care facilities, comforting those who grieve, encouraging those who are struggling, providing rides, meals, and other support. Stephen Ministry provides caring support through trained lay people who give care to others. This church serves the community in COUNTLESS WAYS: Deacons’ blood drives, the Presbyterian Women’s Food for Kids at Sudley Elementary School who otherwise would be hungry over the weekend. The prayers and encouragement of the Prayer Shawl Ministry. Habitat for Humanity. The work of the Mission Team, supporting numerous community organizations, including SERVE and SON and Faith Ministry in Reynosa, Mexico. And of course, Rise Against Hunger, an annual ministry brought to this church a number of years ago by our youth. The youth heard about Rise Against Hunger at Montreat, and they came back and said, we want to do this here. And so your giving has provided literally tens of thousands of meals. And today, we rejoice that we will do Rise Against Hunger again, joining hands and hearts as we work together to do what none of us alone could do.
None of these acts of service are things we could do on our own. It takes all of us, working together as Manassas Presbyterian Church, to accomplish this work, and to share God’s love with the world.
So today, we dedicate ourselves once again to the work of the church. Today, we praise and give thanks to God for God’s great love for us. Today, we accept our call to be partners with Christ in service. May God bless Manassas Presbyterian Church, that we might be a blessing to the world. Amen and amen.
Rev. Dawn M. Mayes
Manassas Presbyterian Church