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You cannot out-give God...

In last Sunday's sermon, I was trying to make a point that we, as human beings, are never really independent, but are rather hard-wired to be dependent.  

At the most basic level, we're dependent on the process called photosynthesis -- each time we breathe, we inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. And therefore you and I are completely dependent on the fact that plants basically reverse the process, "inhaling" our carbon dioxide and producing or "exhaling" the oxygen we need.   

And think about the food you ate today: Unless you are yourself a farmer or a prolific gardener, you are dependent for your survival on farmers to grow that food, producers to produce it, and on truckers and highway infrastructure systems to have gotten it to the stores where you bought it. 

Whether we like it or not, we are dependent.   

And, as people created in the image of God -- who is one Being while also a relationship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -- we are also created to be in relationship. With God, and with one another.  

I find it interesting that there are at least three reminders each Sunday of our dependent, relational nature: the Offertory, the Peace, and Holy Communion.  Today I'd like to invite you to think just a little more about the Offertory.  

On Sunday, I said that during the Offertory, we give back to God a portion of what God has given us: bread, wine, and money.  

Except actually, that's not quite true: if you think about it, none of those things exist in nature. There's no such thing, in nature, as bread, wine, or money.  

What there is in nature -- what's God-given -- is grain, and grapes. And our native intelligence and talents/abilities, and our capacity to learn.   

We use our God-given intelligence and talents/abilities and knowledge to turn our God-given grain and grapes into bread and wine, and we use our God-given intelligence and abilities and knowledge to make a living and earn an income.  (And we also use our God-given gifts talents/abilties to make music -- part of the reason an Offertory Anthem is such an important part of the Offertory.) 

Then we offer some of that bread and wine and income back to God in thanksgiving, essentially saying, "here, God, it's ALL yours to begin with: I offer you some of it back, as a way of acknowledging my gratitude and dependence on you, and others."

And here's the most remarkable thing: what does God do with it? What does God do with the bread and wine and money that you have given back to God?   

God gives it right back to you and others! God gives the bread and wine right back to you and others in the form of Christ's body and blood, and God gives your money right back to you and others in the form of the ministries of the church.  

I just love that about God.  

As a wise old man used to say at the first church I served,  "You cannot out-give God." one of the Offertory sentences -- one I think we'll start using more and more -- puts it,  

"Let us with gladness present the offerings and oblations of our life and labor to the Lord."  


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