Biblical Text: Mark 10:17-22
Full Sermon Draft
This sermon explores two items wrapped by a question. The two items are: 1) the biblical view or warnings about wealth and 2) What it means that Jesus looked at the rich young man and loved him. Neither of these two things are as popular sentiment would have. This sermon attempts to instruct or correct that sentiment. What those two subjects are wrapped in is the question of the good. Not really what actions are good, because that is known defined by the law. The question is one of recognition, do we see Jesus as good? And do we recognize that God alone is good. The offer to the man to sell everything might sound like a law, but it is pure gospel. It is the offer of joining Jesus on his walk. Yes, the walk right now is toward the cross, but it is also heavenward, toward treasure in heaven. Our use of wealth is one way we are invited to participate in the kingdom now.
This text is also only half of a full section. The gospel assigned for next week continues in a similar vein but focusing less on our call and more on God’s action.
Musical notes: 1) The recording includes our choir’s first piece of the Season. 2) I’ve included the hymn after the sermon Lutheran Service Book 694 – Thee Will I Love My Strength My Tower.
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Here is the link to the actual story and the radio version.
This was a great news clip. One thing that kept running through my head was that the Mormon faith in the USA is roughly 3.2 Million people. For comparison the LCMS is roughly 2.5M, Methodist 11M, Baptist 36M, Roman Catholic 57M. How does a group of people who are roughly the same size as the LCMS have such a strong influence on the culture such that two representatives were running for President and their charity is widely known even in the relatively naked public square of NPR?
From the conclusion of the piece…
They would pay a full tithe on the profit when they sold a stock. Yet, if they dumped a stock for a loss, they wouldn’t use the loss to offset and lower the income they tithed on. Unlike taxpayers, the Mormons in the study weren’t big fans of taking deductions so they could send less money to the church.
“They’re worried about being petty with God,” Dahl says.
I asked a Mormon bishop in Salt Lake City if a few more rules defining income might make tithing easier on Mormons or bring in more money for the church. He said all this soul-searching about what you owe God is kind of the point
One of the old christian faith’s practices of lent was almsgiving. That was a practice beyond the tithe. It was direct charity to the less fortunate usually. Ultimately is was a practice that spoke to a recognition of the 10,000 talents. (Matt 18:24) There are plenty of people who would look at the mormon tithe and the question of being petty with God and scream legalism or works righteousness as if they were attempting to buy salvation. Instead it might not be a bad question for lent. In light of the cross, how are we being petty with God? Maybe the LDS are a mirror to our Christian practice. What we give to God doesn’t buy us salvation, but it is a first look at how we value that grace. It is cheap, or costly?
Is that a tithe deductible expense is a common thought expressed in regards to church giving. In that ledger book in our heads we have a category labeled charity. We mentally fulfill or drain this over the week or month, and then whatever is left is given to church. And pastors like me are hopelessly conflicted. In most of our churches the pastor’s compensation is over 50% of the budget. Even if your pastor is a saint, the sermon on giving can seem a little tainted. But it probably falls under the category of ‘things that make you go hmmm…’ that tithe is the one word in this culture that brings out the biblical expert in everyone (just read the comment thread).
Elizabeth Scalia (AKA The Anchoress) takes comfort while watching her kids. For everyone whose seen one stray.
And Elizabeth Drescher looks at the religion of the next generation and sees relevancy not in gadgets but in what the church would call the priesthood of all believers.