11/7/04, P23C, Pledge Sunday, All Saints Day, Holy Communion
Wonderful for Words!
n Paul's Second Letter to the Church at Corinth we find him seeking to raise funds to assist the Church in Jerusalem , because the members there have come on hard times. Evidently the wealthy Corinthians had made pledges a year prior and in chapter nine Paul is saying that if you really are ready, now is the time to send the money. Paul does not twist their arms, he just gently reminds them that they need to do this as an expression of the fellowship of the Church and that the funds are very much needed.
The New Living Translation , which attempts to keep the modern expressions of the original Living Bible , but has been brought up to date with current vocabulary and scholarship, says that the reason they needed to give the offering was to, “Thank God for his Son, a gift too wonderful for words .” (9:15) The KJV uses the familiar expression, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”
God's great gift of Grace is difficult to put into words; but, we may have found a word that comes very close to expressing that which is, “Too Wonderful for Words,” and it is the noble and gracious, almost divine word, “MAGNANIMITY.”
Most of us boomers are reminded of the familiar lyrics made popular by Frank Sinatra, “Too Marvelous for Words.” Of course he was not talking about his relationship with God, but it does come close to describing the magnanimous gift of Grace and Assurance that the Father pours into us through the Holy Spirit: Often times it is called a spiritual romance. Here are Sinatra's familiar lyrics:
just too marvelous
Perhaps glamorous and amorous are not typical words we use to describe our love for God but many times the Bible uses words like beautiful and loving. The Messianic vision of The Song of Solomon 6: 4 describes the Messiah's relationship with the future Church as, “Thou are beautiful, O my love…”
The Holy Spirit in our hearts is an emotional experience much like that of marital love. Both President George Bush and Senator John Edwards recognized their wives as “The love of my life,” as they made their acceptance and concession speeches last Wednesday. It was a beautiful thing for them to say, especially about Laura Bush whom we regard as one of our finest First Ladies. And John Edwards did not realize at the time that his wife would receive the bad news in just a few hours of her diagnoses of cancer. However, their deep love survived the death of their sixteen year old son in an automobile accident a few years ago, and together they will fight cancer. You see, marriage, winning the Presidency, losing the Vice Presidency, and the resolve necessary to defeat cancer are highly charges emotional experiences. I hope all of us can say that our relationship with God is even more powerful as any other experience in our entire lives. God's love and power within us is, at the least, a magnanimous experience that is too wonderful for words.
Another wonderful word that comes close to capturing the working of God in our lives is “Meliorating.” It means to enable, to help, to empower, to improve, and to mend a broken heart. Does this not describe what God has done for us in our Christian walk? This wonderful word, which can also be spelled “ameliorating,” allows us to describe in a word what the Lord means to us.
However, we are able to express our relationship with our God in more than words. Out tithe and offerings are an outward and visible sign of our love for God . This is one of the reasons that in God's magnificent plan for our lives, we have the opportunity to give to His Church as a way of expressing our gratitude.
In today's text, Saint Paul is saying that the chief motivation for giving is out of gratitude to God for His great gift of grace that has given us a new life. I feel that this is still our basic reason to give with magnanimity to our church: We are so grateful! Indeed, surveys always show that the number one reason that Christians give to their church is out of gratitude to God for abundant blessings.
This year our Pledge Sunday fell on our First Sunday Communion observance. We initially decided to skip Communion; but Michael Mims suggested that it would be a good thing to combine our receiving of Holy Communion with dedicating our Pledge card at the Communion Rail as an expression of our great loyalty and love.
Today also mine and Marilyn's wedding anniversary. Would it be an adequate expression just to honor her with mere words, as sweet as they can be? The love of my life deserves much more than words. The diamond engagement ring and the gold wedding band are outward expressions to our beloved; much as our Pledge Card is an appropriate way to visibly express our love of God and His Church.
sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor