14 November 2010

This Thursday at Parliament House, we are launching the Target gift appeal Andrew Leigh is doing the official launch and there will be several children and young people there simply sharing their experience of the joy they have in Christmas as they open the presents.

By the way, we are also – as far as we know for the first time in Australia –  doing most of our promotion jointly with the Anglicare, Salvo and Vinnie’s appeals. It’s trying to make the point that it’s not about us as organisations, “it’s all about the children”. That’s a phrase we hope you may hear a bit over the coming few weeks

The reality is that we are hoping for a pretty simple motivation for the public: If you can relate to the joy of the experience of receiving then hopefully it can motivate us in the way that we may give.

That’s what Paul is doing in Romans. Up to the end of chapter 11, he lays out everything that God has done for us. It’s about mercy, it’s about forgiveness, it’s about grace, it’s about freedom, it’s about love. It’s about life.    And he reminds us over and over again that we are adopted children of God. It’s all about the children.

And having laid it all out, he gets down to great practicalities: So here’s what I want you to do …

When I was young and developing in faith,  One of the things that people tried to help me with was developing an attention to scripture One of the things that people tried to help me with was developing a prayer life One of the things that people tried to help me with was developing my gifts and ministries One of the things that people tried to help me with was about how I spend my time

I can not recall one time that someone sat down with me one to one or as part of a small group and tried to help me think through and make decisions on how to spend my money. I had a great Christian upbringing, but this part was a failure

When I was in South Africa a few years back on ministry exchange,  one of the congregations nearby had the practice where the senior pastor would visit the parishioners and look at their pay cheque and tell them what they needed to be giving (& of course it was all to the church).

That’s not what I am talking about. There are lots of ways that people might work out what they are going to give but what are the principles – and how is it as part of the body of Christ we work them out?

Today Robin and Brooke and Don are giving us the very generous gift of an insight into how they make that decision, and what principles they are working with. That is very very generous of them.   It is in itself a gift of openness.   Thank you

One of the things that Paul says in Romans is that when we are placing our lives before God we are doing it as part of the body of Christ. Our gifts, our resources, our giving and our generosity  do not exist separately from our relationships with one another. We affirm that in our core theology at Kippax, which acknowledges  that faith, and the experience of God, is discovered primarily in relationships

In our worship today and in our small groups this week we are trying to explore, discuss and pray about the principles behind how we give. If that feels strange then it might be because your foundational faith experience was like mine: where we would talk about gifts and talents and scripture and prayer but not how we use our finances.

A Christian writer, Ron Sider ways “We need the help of other brothers and sisters – in our local congregation in our town or city, and around the world. We need to develop a process for discussing  our economic lifestyles with close Christian friends in our congregation. We also need new ways to exchange ideas about the shape of a faithful lifestyle with poor Christians.”

In the Kippax goals that we have been discussing over the past 2 weeks  we see again the value we place on people and community, on advocacy for the poor and for justice. Our very mission statement is that we are called to be, not just to do.

That’s Paul’s message in Romans 12. We are to be transformed in the way that we think and the way that we live.

Remember God’s pie? “Hey dude  – he brought the pie”

Just as we will be doing for the broader community this Thursday at the Gift appeal launch, where we will be reminding people of the generosity they have already received and can recall Paul invites us to be mindful of the pie we have been given and to think, and discuss together on what basis we may cut it up.

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