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The Rector’s sermon for June 11, 2017                                                                                                                                                 

A Preaching Series on

THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Week 3 of 16 – Generosity & Worship – including slides #8-12

 

We all have a certain amount of useless information stored in our heads, and given the perfect opportunity, some of us will gladly share that useless information.  And at this moment, I have just such an opportunity to share a couple of useless words that you will never use in your entire lifetime.  But for the purpose of our gifts journey together, I want to explain just how I hope they will work.   The two useless words I want to share with you today are exegesis and eisegesis (Slide #9).   

Two Useless Words

 

Exegesis

Eisegesis

 

Exegesis is explaining what Scripture means and offering application for our daily lives.  It’s what I attempt to do with the readings most Sundays.  Exegesis is what we’re taught to do in seminary:  take the readings, explain them and apply them.  Now eisegesis is a different story and can be a slippery slope.  Eisegesis is the practice of coming up with a thought or a subject first and then trying to apply that subject, that thought to the readings.   In other words it’s trying to make the Scripture passage say what the preacher wants it to mean.  That’s why it can be a slippery slope.  Exegesis is explaining what’s there, and eisegesis is taking what’s there, and making it mean what you want it to mean. Now why is that important?

On this journey of gift discovery, we will be taking the eisegesis route.  Last week I gave you an overview of all the gifts, the fruit of those gifts, God’s plan for us, and we talked about the gift of Faith.  And while the Pentecost Gospel didn’t exactly mention the gift of faith, there is no doubt that that gift played a part in the apostles’ acceptance of what happened that day.  I began the preparation knowing that my subject was “Faith,” and I looked for its application.  That’s eisegesis: the thought comes first, then we search the Scriptures to make the connection.  And that’s the plan for our journey over the summer:  look at the readings—look at the list of gifts—pick two gifts each week, and find a connection.  Now this won’t be an exact science, but I’ll do my best to make a connection.  But more important than making that connection is learning more about the gifts the Holy Spirit has for us.   Hopefully you will digest what you hear, take the handouts home, and discern whether or not you have that gift or if you would like to have that gift.    

So let’s jump into our eisegesis for the day.   Here are the gifts we have to choose from (Slide #10).  The highlighted gifts each week will be those that we have already covered.   Last week we covered Faith; that means we only  have 30 to go! 

Gifts of the Spirit (Rev. 2)

             Administration          Apostleship            Celibacy                      Craftsman

             Deliverance             Discernment           Encourager                  Evangelist

Faith                           Generosity             Healing                        Helps           

Hospitality                  Intercessor            Interpreting tongues     Interpreting Dreams

Knowledge                 Leadership            Martyrdom                    Mercy

Miracles                     Missionary          Pastor                           Poverty (voluntary)

Prophecy                    Public Speaking     Service                         Speaking in tongues

Teaching                    Wisdom                 Worship

                         

Today we have the amazing story of creation.  Why?  Well, it’s Trinity Sunday, and this passage of Scripture gives us the only Scriptural references to the Trinity that we have.  This is the King James version:  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.  And God said, ‘Let there be light’: and there was light.”  Can you pick out the references to the three persons of the Trinity?  God, of course, would be the Father; the spirit of God moving over the waters, would be the Holy Spirit.   The reference to the Son of God is a little more literal…and God said.  If you recall throughout the New Testament the person of Jesus is referred to as “the Word of God.” “And God said” is the Word of God, Jesus, the Son of God.  So we have the Trinity in the beginning…three persons, one God.  Now, perhaps the compilers of the lectionary could have simply stopped there with the reference to the Trinity.  But the reading continues with the entire story of creation.  And as I looked at the gifts from which I had to choose, I saw the gift of Generosity.  (Slide #11).

GENEROSITY

 

Metadidonai

 

New Testament Greek for:

 

“giving or sharing of one’s entire self.”

 

“And God said, ‘I have given you [everything],

everything that has life.’”

(Gen. 1:29)

 

When we talk about generosity we typically are referring to human beings.  But this passage shows the ultimate of the generosity of God.  He had all he needed to exist, yet he had so much love that he wanted to share that love with creation, with mankind, with a new world.  God truly showed us the meaning of generosity.

The word “generosity” in the New Testament Greek can be translated as “giving or sharing of one’s entire self.”  Remember the widow’s mite?   She didn’t just give; she gave all she had.   Remember Joseph of Arimathea?  He gave his personal place of burial to Jesus.   Those with the gift of generosity expect nothing in return; however, they receive the joy of love that increases as it is given away.   And notice:  joy—love—both of them are fruit of the gifts, fruit of the Spirit.

The gift of generosity is a very visible gift in this community.  Every month you give to a particular agency to enable that agency to do the work God has given them to do.  You do it without personal acknowledgement.  And at the end of each month you hear how your generosity has helped others.  Another example of your generosity:  when the new organ was proposed, you have and continue to respond.  We are so close to realizing that dream to enhance our worship.  And generosity isn’t just with funds and grocery items either.  You are incredibly generous with your time.  The success of our Thrift Store is a prime example.  When we have a need, you respond with the gift of generosity, the majority of the time without question…all the time in the love and joy of the Spirit.   But we did have a good teacher.  Jesus gave all that he had.  He gave Himself.   That is the gift of generosity.

Now, on to another gift.   Look at the list again in the light of today’s readings.  (Slide #12).   

  Gifts of the Spirit 

             Administration          Apostleship            Celibacy                      Craftsman

             Deliverance             Discernment          Encourager                  Evangelist

Faith                          Generosity            Healing                        Helps           

Hospitality                  Intercessor            Interpreting tongues     Interpreting Dreams

Knowledge                 Leadership            Martyrdom                    Mercy

Miracles                     Missionary          Pastor                           Poverty (voluntary)

Prophecy                    Public Speaking     Service                         Speaking in tongues

Teaching                    Wisdom                 Worship

 

We are treated to the amazing story of creation, a visual you can surely entertain in your mind’s eye.  And the Gospel gives us a picture of Jesus on the mount of Ascension, surrounded by the disciples in awe of the presence of their Redeemer, listening to his every word.  What gift do you see?    The gift I see…is the gift of worship!  (Slide #13)

WORSHIP

Those with this gift…

…can intimately encounter God during worship or at other times.

…are sometimes moved to tears during Sunday worship.

…have a musical talent with which to praise God.

 

If you compare this list to last week’s, you’ll notice that Worship wasn’t on the list.  I simply forgot it!  What an awful mistake to make!  So what is worship?  Worship is that unique ability to find ourselves in the presence of Almighty God, especially here in this place.   With this gift you have the ability to understand and feel the presence of Almighty God.   It’s a gift that we should all want!  Now, God is always with us, but being able to actually experience His presence is amazing.  So how does that happen?  Well, we’re human, so it happens through our senses.  This gift reminded me of a story.  Years ago a deacon from a very large church was passing through town and he had stopped to see if we could go to lunch.  I had some things to clean up and he said he’d wait for me in the church.  When I met up with him some time later, this is what he told me.  He said he remembered the inside of the church from other occasions and had thought to himself what a lovely, little country church.   But this time, he said, as he walked into the sanctuary, he gasped.  It had nothing to do with anything he could see.   He said it was the presence of the Holy Spirit.  He said he felt it the minute he reached the entrance to the sanctuary.  And he’s not the first person to have said that.  Perhaps you’ve heard it yourself, or maybe you’ve even felt it yourself.  The gift of worship allows one to deeply sense the presence of Almighty God—not just here, but anywhere— perhaps even in a way that will make you gasp.  

 

Another way God sometimes connects deeply with us is through tears.  Have you ever noticed anyone with tears in their eyes during worship?   That is another close encounter with the Spirit of God, touching a heart, making that person know how much they are loved and cared for.

 

Prayer is also a special gift of worship.  In these times when life is so filled with busyness, it’s sometimes difficult to make the time to be still before God and allow Him to speak to us.  I know I sometimes get so caught up in the material part of being a priest that those quiet times of being in the presence of God are few and far between.

 

Another aspect of the gift of worship encompasses all those things that bring people closer to God in worship, like music, singing, dancing, playing an instrument.  Did you know that all three members of the Trinity sing?   According to the prophet Zephaniah (3:17), God the Father sings.  The prophet writes:  “The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”  We know that Jesus sang, because in Matthew’s Gospel, (26:30), before he and his disciples went to the Mount of Olives, he and his disciples sang a hymn.  But how does the Holy Spirit sing?  He sings through His church!   Ephesians 5:18ff:  “Be filled with the spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody…”  (Slide #14)

Generosity?   -   Worship?

 

           Step 1:   Explore the possibilities

Step 2:   Experiment with many gifts

           Step 3:   Examine your feelings

Step 4:   Evaluate your effectiveness

            Step 5:  Expect confirmation

 

So today we’ve looked at Generosity and Worship.   Think about them this week.   Read the handouts.  And look at the steps.  If you’re not already, would you want God to make you a generous person?   Would your life be enhanced by the gift of worship?   The answer to those questions is:  Absolutely!   But the real question is this:   Do you want these gifts to be part of God’s spiritual plan for you? 


 



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