Sermon Series – ‘Giving in Grace’

A 4-part Sermon Series preached around the Benefice in January and February 2024.

This is based on four passages from Luke’s Gospel and invites us to consider how generous we are in response to God. The heart of the Christian message is the total sacrificial giving of Jesus to us. Just over a tenth of Luke deals with wealth and possessions which suggest that it is of great significance. Luke goes further in the Book of Acts as he discusses the sharing of possessions, revolutionary stuff!

Our congregations around the Benefice are generous and we thank you for the depth and wealth of what you give to the church and wider community with time, talents and treasure. Over these four sermons,  we will be asked to consider our giving, why we do it, how we do it and who is it for.

Most of us are aware of what we earn, but are less familiar with what we spend and give. Statistics would suggest that church goers give on average, 3% of our incomes to the Church of England. In our three parishes we only balance our books through fundraising and reserves. There are no grants made to us to run the mission and ministry of the churches, our finances rely on what the congregations give. This is ultimately unsustainable as eventually volunteers will tire and reserves will run out.

Please commit to going on a journey with us in this series asking the simple question, What is God saying to me?

Part 1: The Rich Ruler

Bible Readings: Luke 18:18-30 and Deuteronomy 15:1-11 

Part 2: The Rich Fool

Bible Readings: Luke 12:13-21 and Colossians 3:1-11

In Part 2 we meet The Rich Fool. His foolishness is that his wealth has distorted his values and focus, it is a trap for us all. We can be wooed with the lie, a little more would make us happier. Riches bring a wider array of life choices but for him not the choice of ongoing life, sadly. There is a clear battle here, on the one side ambition and on the other God. It is not that you can’t have both, but is the ambition ultimately to honour God or ourselves? It is this issue of self centredness that is at the heart of this parable’s teaching and clear in the way the rich fool speaks of himself and for himself. There is no sense of using his wealth to help others, to give, he simply wants to accumulate. The good news is that we all have an opportunity today to review and reset how we use our
wealth to honour God. In this there will be no regrets.

Part 3: Zaccheaus

Bible Readings: Luke 19:1-10 and Acts 4:32-37

In a dramatic encounter in Luke’s Gospel we meet Zacchaeus. He was hardly flavour of the month in Jericho because of his tax profession and likely collusion with the Roman
authorities. The physical distance that was created by his tree climbing was symbolic of his detachment from his own community, who shunned him. What is clear in this meeting is a radical change of heart, worked out in a new life of generosity. Those who had been at the sharp end of his corrupt financial dealings were repaid in abundance and beyond this, people in need were generously assisted. A meeting with Jesus that brings a personal commitment to follow him, means a reset for the way we speak, act and give. Zacchaeus provides us with an invitation to reassess our distance or closeness to Jesus and who we honour with the resources he has loaned to us, to make a difference.

Part 4: The Widow’s Mite

Bible Readings: Luke 21:1-4  and 2 Corinthians 8:8-13

This marks the end of our sermon series on generosity, we pray that over
the series you have been encouraged to explore the gift, that is being generous.

We set out to preach what we believe God has been saying to us in the passages in Luke. All of us are invited to reflect and consider what we do, as a result of what God has been saying to us. Our circumstances are different and for each of us there is a journey to be made.