possible to give without loving;
it is impossible to love without giving.”
the top of your bulletin, put this to the test – think for a
moment of a person you have experienced as being generous. Your
family’s ritual of giving, either when you were a child or now
as an adult. An act of generosity you have witnessed in the
community, at work, at school. Where you have seen God’s
abundance in the world.
acts of stewardship, these memories you’re revisiting. And I
would put a lot of money that any memory/story you could tell
this morning would eventually get to love. The giving a natural
effect of the love – trust – joy – hope experienced. For it is
possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love
By now you
probably got the memo that it’s Stewardship Sunday – with a tour
of our ministries, a healthy lunch afterwards. If you are a
visitor today I hope, we hope you will feel comfortable to stay
and take the tour, you will learn a lot about this church.
Stewardship means a few things to this world but at its base in
Christianity it is the care for resources for which a person or
a group has no ownership – resources entrusted to a person or
group. using what you have to help all you can in as many ways
as you can.
responsible for the ministries of this church, we are the
teachers and elders and organizers and missionaries. We consider
each year how we will pledge our support into the next year. We
are responsible citizens of Eugene, we work, we pay our taxes,
we maintain our yards and obey, uphold the laws. We aim to be
responsible Christians, giving voice to those who have no voice,
speaking the truth in love, respecting others and ourselves,
valuing life and the experience of knowing God. We are some
very busy stewards -
to the community in Corinth speak to me today of the hardships
of continued stewardship. The vision has been cast, the
community is organized, and time has passed. Some goals
reached, others in process, others left behind. Paul is
everywhere but in Corinth - And he asks that they stay the
course, even though they can’t see the result of their
stewardship, they have no control over the outcome, only doing
their part to care for the message of Jesus and the building of
Remember this—a farmer who plants
only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants
generously will get a generous crop. 7 You must each decide in
your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in
response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives
cheerfully.” 8 And God will generously provide all you need.
Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left
over to share with others. 9 As the Scriptures say,
“They share freely and give
generously to the poor.
Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”
10 For God is the one who
provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same
way, he will provide and increase your resources and then
produce a great harvest of generosity in you.
11 Yes, you will be enriched in
every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take
your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.
concerned with more than the gift itself – in this context I
believe he is encouraging them to finish a giving project they
have pledged to – but Paul is addressing the spirit of the
person giving, the intention with which things are given. For
staying the course out of obligation, out of anxiety, out of
guilt, out of pressure is not sustainable. Those are not
building blocks they are stumbling blocks.
experience verse 6 firsthand, okay? A farmer who plants only a
few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants
generously will get a generous crop. How many have heard of
Laughing Yoga? How many have participated? I have twice – both
of my daughter Hannah’s favorite activities is to keep laughing. She hears a
joke and laughs and loves that laughing so much she will go to
great lengths to keep it going. It’s contagious and fun. Turns
out its down right healthy for you. This is the essence of
laughing yoga, I think. The concept of Laughter Yoga is based
on a scientific fact that the body cannot differentiate between
fake and real laughter. One gets the same physiological and
psychological benefits whether its fake or real laughter. And
works with breath and movement, like all yoga.
The goal of
Laughter Yoga is to bring good health, joy and peace - through
Laughter. C’mon, laughter IS the best medicine, right? I mean,
anyone can Laugh for No Reason, you don’t need jokes or
comedy, someone to slip on a banana.
It soon turns into
real and contagious laughter.
Let’s do it.
Just a couple, just to get a taste of it. Please keep in mind
that the Laughter exercises are supposed to be playful and you
have permission to enjoy yourself. And of course you have
permission to not play at all, there is nothing worse than being
forced to participate in a religious activity - but to that I
would just say this:
Lama calls himself a professional laugher. I read an interview
related to a new memoir recently published - and I’ve heard him
say it in other ways before, but that with all the difficult
circumstances and loss he feels in his life, all the suffering
he knows the only way he has survived emotionally, with strength
to go on and focus to stay the course is through laughter. That
it’s the Tibetan way, he says.
Let’s make it
the Eugene Disciples way today, shall we?
breath, into ho ho ha ha ha,
Channel has a news video, just a little brief detailing a
factory group of workers in India who come together for work and
before they start work they have a laughter session. Seriously,
can you imagine? They do this same warm up exercise! They stand
by it, it was the workers who started the group, and they
happily testify to the difference it makes in their whole day,
on the way they perceive all the circumstances of the day.
another one, now that we’re warmed up.
you can do this standing or sitting, however is most
comfortable. Stand up if you’re able, it’s good to add
movement. Using only laughter as your words, of whatever sort
of laughter you’d like, shake the hand of the person next to
you, as if you’re greeting them for the first time this morning.
The vision of
this congregation – a vision of transformation – to be a church
that people who don’t normally come to church will want to come
to – this is a serious vision – one we are all responsible for -
When I think about building that church, the blood pressure
starts to rise, there is a lot of work to be done –
Transformation was the business the Corinthian community was in
as well – helping other communities transition, sort of like
church planting – well that’s our business too – transformation
– You know the whole point of the tour today is to give you a
taste of all that we are and what we are hoping to be.
You’ll be in groups of about 10-20 and you’ll move from place to
place together. Your tour guide will give you some general
information but it is your eyes and voices that will experience
the tour – you’ll see many displays and posters - you’re going
to hear about 44 areas of ministry - things that we are already
doing – well more than enough – but we want to be more, do more
– you have ideas you haven’t even pitched yet because you’re
waiting until things settle down – well guess what people! It’s
not going to slow down, again…the blood pressure rises.
laughter experiment illuminates this little lesson from Paul to
the Corinthians: give cheerfully from your heart, even in the
form of a few seeds – it will come back to you and you will have
enough to give more. Your laughter – it moved from you to your
neighbor, they can’t help but laugh, or at least smile, and then
you are hopelessly bound in this growing circle of laughter.
Starting your day with laughter is guaranteed to lower the
blood pressure and shape your outlook on the day.
We have promised to
build something that needs our focus, our patience, our
determination, our every gift.
Gifts that are seeds planted, planted to grow, to build on one
another. We can’t afford to put anything out there but love.
Leadership, stewardship, they can be contagious too, can be
joyfully given, when given from the whole person in love. And
when you give in that spirit God provides generously all you
Want to laugh
together one more time? Paul’s letter to the Corinthians says
that many seeds are going to make a great harvest. So we’re
going to practice planting laughter seeds (get your basket, any
tools you might need)
fun, isn’t it? Good for the soul. I know that feeling of
contagious spontaneous joy – specifically the feeling of wanting
to laugh longer but also keep the feeling of hope alive with
presidential elections, the joy and acceptance that happens on a
spiritual retreat or church camp experience. I’ve felt it at a
dinner party when I didn’t want to go home.
chemistry is just right in a youth group or small group of
friends or co-workers and the group meshes, and learns
together, grows together, accomplishes the task at hand. They
are good stewards of each other. I know that feeling. I live
on that feeling – watching other people laugh together or
accomplish something together? Love it.
once said “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put
into giving.” Feel Good about what you can give. It doesn’t
matter how much you give but how much Love you put into your
giving. Like it didn’t matter how you started laughing but
that you did. Plant a seed of love in someone else. Plant a
seed of laughter in yourself. If we continue to sow in love we
will harvest righteousness/justice. If we continue to give
because of our joy we will harvest compassion and equality.
Plant seeds generously, pray generously, as each are able.
breakfast isn’t about standing behind a counter but having
pancakes yourself! The sign used to say Free breakfast for all
who need it or the needy. Dear God I need it. We all need it,
that sense of growing relationship, the growing hope that being
a person of generous love is worth it, makes a difference, heals
the broken world.
Let Paul speak to you today, right
into your heart, where you make your important decisions, where
you weigh your abilities and your passions and your hope grows.
Love what you give.
You have so much to give. May we
joyfully laugh our way into the future together.
[Editor's Note: A bench was
dedicated on this Sunday to Mildred Webb, our master gardener --