They Rejoiced!

They Rejoiced!

November 11th, 2017

 

2 Chronicles 24:8-13

So the king Joash gave command, and they made a chest, and set it outside the gate of the house of the Lord. A proclamation was made throughout Judah and Jerusalem to bring in for the Lord the tax that Moses the servant of God laid on Israel in the wilderness. All the leaders and all the people rejoiced, and brought their tax and dropped it into the chest until it was full. Whenever the chest was brought to the king’s officers by the Levites, when they saw that there was a large amount of money in it, the king’s secretary and the officer of the chief priest would come and empty the chest and take it and return it to its place. So they did day after day, and collected money in abundance. The king and Jehoiada gave it to those who had charge of the work of the house of the Lord, and they hired masons and carpenters to restore the house of the Lord, and also workers in iron and bronze to repair the house of the Lord. So those who were engaged in the work laboured, and the repairs went forward at their hands, and they restored the house of God to its proper condition and strengthened it.

 

When Joash determined he would rebuild the temple, he started something that would multiply beyond his dreams.

First, he directed the Levites to collect money for the purpose of rebuilding the temple.  And they did, but somehow the money got lost somewhere between the donors and the temple.  That happens. So Joash “gave a command, and they made a chest, and set it outside the gate of the house of the Lord.”

The people trusted that this was different.  They hadn’t trusted the Levites to get the gift where it was intended.  This box was under the King’s eye and the King had pledged to rebuild the temple.  They knew where their gifts were going.

It’s important information.  For that reason the Session has published a budget showing how they intend to use the gifts that are received.  We want you to know where the money is going.

And as the people gave, they rejoiced.  I tell you, if you love God and you love this church, put a smile on your face.  Give with glee.  It’s an occasion of great joy.  I firmly believe that the most fun thing I can do with money is give it away.  I’m always glad I have enough to pay the bills, but that I can give money away!  That’s where the fun is.

If you’re thinking, “Okay.  I’ll give if I have to.”  If you’re feeling coerced.  If you want to pout and frown about your giving—I don’t want your money.  Keep it.  The Session may reprimand me for making such a statement.  I only know that God wants cheerful givers.  God wants hilarious givers.

In a moment I’m going to ask you all to come forward and place your estimate of giving card in this beautiful box.  As you are coming forward, if I were courageous, we would play something in a ¾ time so you could waltz down the aisle, dancing with joy.  “We Gather Together works.”  Or “O Master Let Me Walk with Thee.”  Except being in ¾ time it should be, “O Master Let Me Dance with Thee.”

All the people rejoiced!

And look what happened!  The temple budget was oversubscribed!  There was money left over.  They had to figure out how to spend the extra money faithfully.  Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing for us?

Imagine the wonderful things we could do in Jesus’ name if we oversubscribed the budget, by say, a hundred thousand dollars!

We could hire summer staff for Shoal Kirk and operate camping programs and serve children from miles around.  Or hire the youth director or associate some folks wish we had.  Or hire a retired pastor part time to make hospital calls and call on the homebound.  I believe the money is in our pockets.  We could do it if enough of us had the desire.

Now I don’t expect anyone to pull out their estimate of giving card and increase their pledge just because I have some ideas about what this congregation is capable of.  Maybe there is a good idea in that list.  Or a good idea in someone else’s head.  Maybe someone has a dream about the next great thing this congregation might do.  And maybe next year is soon enough.

Your generous giving will help this church reach its potential.  One pastor told it like this.  He said, “With God’s help we can see the day when this church will go from crawling to walking.”

This was a church in which people spoke out in worship so the amens were sounded and several responded, “Let the church walk, Pastor, let the church walk!”

Satisfied with this response the pastor continued, “And when the church begins to walk, next the church can begin to run!”  And the people caught the enthusiasm:  “Let the church run, Pastor.  Let the church run!”

Now the pastor had a full head of steam and he cried out, “And finally this church can move from running to flying!  Oh yes!  This church can fly! But of course, it’s going to take a lot of money for that to happen.”

 

The congregation grew very quiet, and then somewhere in the back someone mumbled, “Let the church crawl, Pastor, let the church crawl.”

The good news is that God has given us everything we need to make this congregation fly.  The future is in your hands.

Remember the hokie pokie?  It’s not enough to put your left arm in or your right foot.  You have to put your whole self in.

You and I can be like those ancient Israelites, challenged in our giving, joyous in our giving, so generous in our giving that there is an abundance for God’s work in this place.

With that, I invite you all to come forward.  Some here have already sent their cards by mail or other means.  Come forward anyway.  Come and bless the box and the gifts.  Come in joy.

Allow me to be the first to put my card in, a gift for the church in 2018.  Come in joy.

 

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