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I had real trouble getting this done this week.  I struggled. No one no one other than HMRC and Bob Geldof feels comfortable telling people what to do with their money.

Well the HMRC, Bob Geldof and Jesus

Here we have Jesus using the least successful sales pitch in history: a successful sales pitch would be: Follow me: get free stuff.  Not follow me: give up all your stuff.

And its not just stuff: its family: mother father brother sister

And even life itself:

Then Jesus goes on to say that even if we gave all this stuff it wouldn’t be enough: we would be like the King who goes to make war or the man who sets out to build a tower only to discover that we do not have the resources to complete the task.  We cannot possibly by our own efforts with our own hard gotten gains build the kingdom of God.

So the message seems to boil down to: you must give up all that you have but even that won’t be enough.

No wonder I have been struggling with this sermon.

It’s a hard sell..........but its still good news.

Here’s the thing: We are being asked to choose life, to choose blessing, to let go of all that prevents us from receiving life in all its fullness.

Because all that stuff we thought was ours? Our stuff yes but alos our community, our identity, our relationships, our sense of who we are and what life we want for ourselves – its not ours.  We don’t own it, we didn’t earn it, its gift: all gift.

We did not make ourselves.  We were given and we were given to and for God, to and for the world God loves.

If we hear this a call to give up all our stuff it is because we think it is because the stuff is ours and we are in control = in some ways this is an easier thing for us to do than to live lives in complete and utter trust that all that we have and all that we are is gift, not something to hold onto but something to live out, to use, to share in joy and generosity.

Of course we don’t have the resources to build the kingdom by ourselves: God builds the kingdom – and we get to be part of it.

So in fact, Jesus is a great salesman: he is saying follow me: get free stuff – or rather: rejoice,  you have the free stuff already – follow me and you will enjoy it you will truly receive it as gift, as blessing.

This is the prayer that I say when the collection is brought forward to the altar:

Everything in heaven and earth is yours.  All things come from you and of your own do we give you.

When we give to the church we are taking our place in the kingdom.

We are a little church.  A handful of God’s people and yet we give.  You have for years surprised and delighted me with your generosity: in giving TVs and sofas and clothing to our Syrian refugee families, to cooking and chatting and washing up with our homeless guests in the winter shelter, giving lifts and baking cakes for the senior members of our community. 

And I know that this giving brings joy not just to those you receive your generosity but to you who give – because you are doing what you were made to do, you are building the kingdom in our midst and it is life-giving.

And the cash that you give supports not only this church community but the whole Diocese: we are a net giver to the wider church – our giving means that church can happen and community can thrive across Lambeth and across Southwark. Without you that blessing would not be passed on.

But – there’s a but – sorry – our giving is down – we have recently taken the decision to reduce the amount we give to the Diocese to share with other communities by nearly a fifth.

If you would like to find out what your giving is spent on: ask? Talk to me, to our treasurer, to our wardens, talk to those who represent us in the deanery and the diocese.  If you would like to find out how you can give how you can be more involved in the work of the kingdom here in this corner of South London – ask.

The issue for us is not what should we give? our money our time our talents our hearts

Or how much should we give? And how much should we keep?

It is how can we live trusting, trusting that God offers us life and blessing: that all things come from God and all things belong to God.