Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
A while back I came across a Chinese Proverb about happiness that I have not forgotten. The Proverb states,
If you want happiness for an hour – take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day – go fishing.
If you want happiness for a month - get a haircut.
If you want happiness for a year – inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime- help someone else.
While I am not convinced about the truth of all of the above statements, I definitely agree with the last one- If you want happiness for a lifetime – help someone else.
Jesus shared that same message with us in his Sermon on the Mount as recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Jesus' teachings on true happiness are called the Beatitudes. Jesus teaches, “Blessed or happy are those who are merciful, those who show mercy- those who help people in need by giving of their time, talents, and resources.
And it seems that even the health community has discovered this truth. Studies have shown that there are definite emotional benefits that come from giving, such as: increased self-acceptance, stronger feelings of personal satisfaction, reduced inner stress and conflict, enhanced compassion, empathy sensitivity to others. And there are even physical benefits that come from giving, such as: enhanced functioning of the immune system, improved cardiovascular circulation, healthier sleep, decreased metabolic rate. But the greatest benefit that comes from giving is spiritual. Giving of our time, talents, and resources is a way to grow closer to God.
As a Pastor, in the past I have debated as to where to put the offering in the order of the worship service. Some Pastors take an offering before the sermon, others, like myself, take the offering following the sermon. At one point in my ministry, I decided I would consult the experts so I went to the Book of Discipline of the UMC. I read that the offering, our giving, is in response to hearing the Good News, the Word of God.
Hopefully through the scripture and the sermon and the music and the prayers and through God's Spirit moving amongst us we are reminded of God's unconditional love and forgiveness and we are reminded as we read in James1:17, “Every Good and Perfect Gift is from above, coming down from the Father.” All that we are and have are gifts from God. So we respond from a grateful heart, hopefully not out of obligation or guilt, but from a sincere thankful heart.
On Sunday, October 6, during the worship service, we will pray for God's blessing upon our gifts, upon our lives, and upon our church. We will ask God to inspire our hearts to give, love and live abundantly in the name of Jesus.
I pray you will join us!
And All God's Children Said,