Aloha Friday Message – June 10, 2016 – Giving to the Living

1624AFC061016 – Giving to the Living

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Luke 8:1-3 Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

Galatians 2:19b-21 I have been crucified with Christ; 20 and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.21 I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.

Whatsoever you do (↔ Music Link) for the living is never wasted. If your gift of time, talent, treasure, love and caring, or dignity does not bless the one on whose behalf you act, then the blessing it carries returns to you. God is the Lord of all that lives and nothing that God makes is dead. He is depending on you, on me, on us to provide for others in ways that glorify him. We are his gift to each other.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! This coming Sunday in many churches around the world those who listen will hear about David’s recognition of his great sin against his friend Uriah whom he had murdered so that he could possess Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. We will also hear the Apostle Paul declare that The Law is unable to save us from its own justice because The Law is only just, not just and merciful. Action outside The Law, but congruent with The Law is Mercy. Mercy supersedes Justice without negating Justice because Mercy perfects Justice. God is Just and Merciful because God is Righteous (See Psalm 116:5 and Genesis 6:9). He expects us to be righteous by doing what he does – to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with him. (See Micah 6:8) The Biblical characters that were called in scripture righteous are all people who “walked with God.” If we are walking with God, we must strive to be righteous – just, kind, humble, loving, and obedient to Christ’s Law of Love. We can take a significant step toward that goal by being in the cadre of those who provided for them out of their resources. We have gifts given to us while we are living. What shall we do with those gifts? And come to think of it, why should we do anything with those gifts? We did nothing to receive them, we did nothing to merit them, we did nothing to choose them, and way too often we do nothing to use them.

One of the best things we can do is to give those gifts to others because whatever is not given is lost. What is lost? The opportunity to bless. Who loses it? The giver and the receiver. How is it lost? If it is not given now, today, it cannot be given yesterday. It will not be given tomorrow because the instant today ends, it’s already tomorrow. There is only now, for now (there will be eternity fur us eventually), because that is when we are living – NOW. You have to give your gift now. What will you give? Silly question, right? “You cannot give what you do not have.” What do you have? Your resources, the Gifts given to you by God and by others. Even the things you think you have earned – prestige, money, knowledge, skills, anything that required your personal effort – even those are gifts because the capacity to “earn” them is an a priori gift. What we have, who we are, where we came from, and where we’re going – ALL GIFTS! The gifts are not for our selfish consumption; our gifts are to be shared as we walk along through the land of the living with God in front of us and our brothers and sisters around us. Our gifts help support the continuance of the living. The gifts of Mary, Joanna, Susanna, and many others (note they are women!) sustained not only the women, but also the Apostles, and Jesus. There is no scripture that Jesus miraculously provided for his own needs; no, that was provided by others who gave of themselves and their resources within their means. They didn’t seize resources from others to support their own group. They used their own resources to care for each other so they could walk humbly with God.

In the scripture just preceding today’s Gospel quote, a very sinful woman, well-known for her promiscuity, kneels behind Jesus who is reclined at table, washes his feet with her tears, kisses them, dries them with her hair, and anoints them with precious ointment. She gave of her resources, and the greatest of the resources she had was Love which grew out of her gratitude for Jesus’ message of hope. His gratitude and generosity were rewarded with forgiveness of all her sins. In my heart, I feel that woman also walked with Jesus from that time on. Perhaps I am wrong in that, but she most certainly would have been welcomed by the other women all of whom had also found that the power of Jesus Word cleansed them of sin and freed them from bondage. They were alive in Christ Jesus and filled with joy.

In Galatians, we see that Paul is also alive in Jesus and filled with Joy. He is still living as Paul, but declares it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. How can this be? I mean, we know that when we accept Christ as our personal Savior, we experience Jesus alive in our hearts (↔ Music Link), and we know the Gift is from the Giver of all that is Good. When we walk with him, like these women did, we are called to reciprocate the generosity which characterizes our gifts by giving to the living who walk with us. That must be done responsibly; you can give what you have, but you cannot give what you take from someone else; you can share your gifts but must not deprive someone to indulge yourself or others. Paul states, “And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” We must love others and give ourselves for them. It’s a pretty simple concept, yet we seem remarkably capable at messing it up. It often works out that our ways of living declare “What is mine is mine and what is yours is mine.” As often repeated here – “What we do says who we are. Actions speak louder than words.” Love is an action. Give is an action. Live is definitely an action. The people in today’s scriptures met God and walked with him, knew him personally, gave of themselves to help him and the others who put their gifts to Good use by sharing. They got to know him by being with him. How are you getting to know him?

Where is YOUR Bible?

Where is YOUR Bible?

Have you met Jesus in a way that made him really accessible to you? Have you heard his quiet whisper on the mountaintop? Did you see him playing with his dog in the park? Have you given him a plate of food at the shelter? Did you see the light radiating from the Communion chalice? Did you hear his prophecy in a song on the radio? Did he multiply your resources after you shared them with others? Did he offer you loving correction and guidance in the heart of your friend? Did he bake you a batch of your favorite cookies? Did he show up at your door with a casserole when your dad died? Did he ride with you through the storm or away from the forest fire? Could you hear the nails piercing his wrists? Did someone see Jesus in you when you did these things for them? Then Jesus was present. Belovéd, he is most present to us when we are present to others, especially when we are present with him in The Word. Dust off that Bible and take a walk and share a talk with him today so that before tomorrow comes that chance to be with him that is found only in serving others now will be part of today and every single yesterday. Say hello, and give him your Gift. He’s right here, right now.

We can’t keep putting Jesus “over there” in the church or “Up There” in Heaven. He’s always “right here.” Stop. Look. Listen. Feel. Touch. Taste and see the Goodness of the Lord. He never ever goes away no matter how good things are or no matter how bad things are. He’s always revealing himself to you “Every Moment of Every Day.” (↔ Music Link) We must be always proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And on those days when we feel like we have moved so far away from him that he can’t possibly know where we are, he speaks a promise to us:

… do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid,  for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

We must not try to nullify the Grace of God by justifying our own selfishness. And I, for my part, will walk with you as well and I make this promise:

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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