O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
The LORD’s Contribution
The LORD’s Contribution
Based on Ex. 35:5-10, 20-29
Preached on October 21, 2018
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The text for the sermon this morning - is what Moses says to the people when he comes down from the mountain with the new stone tablets – you know – the second time – when they weren’t worshipping the golden calf – he said: “This is the thing that the Lord has commanded. Take from among you a contribution to the Lord. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord's contribution: gold, silver, and bronze; blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen; goats' hair, tanned rams' skins, and goatskins; acacia wood, oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, and onyx stones and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece.
“Let every skillful craftsman among you come and make all that the Lord has commanded: The tabernacle and all its items… Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the Lord's contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to the Lord. And everyone who possessed blue, purple or scarlet yarns or fine linen or goats' hair or tanned rams' skins or goatskins brought them. Everyone who could make a contribution of silver or bronze brought it as the Lord's contribution. And everyone who possessed acacia wood of any use in the work brought it. And every skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue, purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. All the women whose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats' hair. And the leaders brought onyx stones and stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastpiece, and spices and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense. All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the Lord.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
When the LORD calls for building materials and skilled workers, what is He really doing? Something for Himself? Like the Creator of all has a hankering for some goatskins, or wants to see His refection in the glittery gold? Or is it really for His people? Is this all really something for them?
It’s to build the tabernacle – that tent where God would make His holy presence dwell – no longer up on the top of the mountain – heaven joining earth in the thunder and lightning, the dark cloud and flaming mountaintop – No – now He wants to come right down into the midst of His people - closer to them – dwelling with them – one of them – so He can serve them with His holy presence, forgive, clean, mercify, protect, wash, feed and comfort them. It’s all for them.
And it’s all for us. This tent/temple stuff. The pattern getting us ready for the joining of heaven and earth in Christ - when He would come down from heaven above and unite Himself to our humanity – not from a mountain to a goatskin tent – but from His heavenly throne into the tent/temple of human flesh - born as we are – becoming one of us – closer to us - dwelling with us - so He can serve us with His holy presence, forgive, clean, mercify, protect, wash, feed and comfort us! He is the new testament, filling up the old.
But you know dear ones – this New Testament of His goes one step farther. He unites Himself to us in a new way. You are baptized INTO Christ. He unites Himself to you in a marriage feast. Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. Take and eat, this is My body. Take and drink, my holy blood. In the New Testament, He is closer than ever – yes – He calls us His temple. His people. We don’t live around the temple. We are the temple. We don’t turn to Jerusalem. We are the place where His Spirit dwells. He united Himself to us in Baptism. We are married to Christ. One flesh. Bride and groom. What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.
He did all this – for you His precious people. Just as He did with His people of old, delivering them from slavery in Egypt, making them into a nation, giving them all their earthly possessions, all their skills. He did all this for you.
And now, just as He called them, He calls us to consider the LORD’s contribution. But this time He’s not making a tent – He’s making a people. A new humanity in Christ, heaven and earth united in Him. He brings heaven down and gives us our earthly things, and now we take a portion of that when He moves us and we take it to Him – that He might use it – not necessarily for pews, pulpit and artwork – but for the people! His people need you and so today when we make pledges – we are not just making pledges of money, though it is part of – you may not be the one with the money – that doesn’t make a difference – you pledge what you can pledge with your money – but the Lord has given each of us time and energy and attention that the PEOPLE of this congregation need so that He can build them up.
Your time for His people. Your energy for His people. Your attention for His people. He wants to unite heaven and earth - make His holy presence the communion point of all things - never discredit what happens when we as God’s people unite ourselves to one another – when we use all the things God has given us and make a contribution to the lives of the people who gather here – this is how it will grow – this is how God will be glorified – He has given it to you as a gift – time, talent, treasure - all of it – and now you get the benefit of calling on Him to stir your heart and ask Him to use you to bring forth a contribution that will be a blessing to all these people here – to those we will reach out to - and even to you united here each of us to one another.
Don’t think you got what it takes? It’s not possible. Let every skilled craftsman among you come, the LORD said. That’s you. No, maybe none of us knows the first thing about sewing goatskins – though I’d certainly like to see that. But you do contribute to the worship – you contribute with your bodily presence, the way you spend time together with one another – with your confession of faith, with the words that you sing, speak and confess with one another, with the way you listen to what others say –– maybe the Lord has made you skilled at listening, maybe He has made you skilled at understanding, maybe He has made you skilled at sharing your time, sharing your energies, maybe you’re good at organizing things, cooking, greeting people, managing technological things – whatever the worship needs and the needs of these people here are - these are the things the Lord has given us the skills for – Did you notice? He didn’t need to say it more than once. Moses came down from the mountain. He told the people what the Lord said, and away they went and they came back, those with a willing heart, with all the things needed. God provides through us as a group for one another and for His needs here – we don’t need to look elsewhere – we need to look at what the Lord has given – for you have something to offer.
And they came, everyone whose heart stirred them, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart. This is important. The Lord is not talking to that part of you that recoils and draws back the moment He mentions what needs to happen – NO – He is not talking to that part of you – He is talking to the faith He has given you – He is talking directly to the new you – to the part of you that will be living forever with Him – to the eternal you – to the heaven born part of you – to the one that is born from above, born of Spirit – the part He has united with your flesh – the one that is eternal - His child – He is speaking to you, dear one, and He is calling to you, and when you realize this, there is absolutely no compulsion – just a call – those of a willing heart, bring forward what is needed for this joining of heaven and earth – for this precious people where the Lord will join His heavenly holy Word to you and all those you graciously bring here into His presence.
You see you have two hearts in you dear Christian, you have the old one, the one that doesn’t want to give, doesn’t want to share, doesn’t want others to have, that is even bothered when others have – then you have the pure heart of Christ, given and bestowed upon you, entrusted to you by the Father in heaven, the heart that bleeds out for others, gives itself wholly and fully until there is nothing left. Like God’s own Son did for you. So these two hearts battle within you. One is going to win, and the other is going to die and stay dead forevermore, and never give an impulse to you again, but until then, you wrestle –which one do you want to win? Which heart do you want to listen to? Your new heart, the one that is in Christ, has something so unique, so divine, so high and holy to offer the world. Don’t let the old one rob you of that opportunity, don’t let that old one deceive you into thinking that its going to lose out or miss something if you give – it’s just not true. God has prepared a whole path before you which you will walk in and grow in and do with Him, and He is promising – you have something to offer, there is a potential in you He has made by faith, that the Holy Spirit is working, and He is calling you to work with Him, to take your place in that new wonderful kingdom that He is making.
When the LORD calls for pledges of time, talent and treasure, what is He really doing? Something for Himself? Or is it really for His people? Really for you?
This is the divine mystery He has hidden in all of this. The LORD’s contribution is something He uses to draw us closer to Him and one another. Only God can work this kind of exponentially growing blessing – this eternally growing closeness He has already started in Christ, and is now working in you. Set your hearts on this work of His, and rest in His gracious presence – for as amazing as this is – He is just getting started. In the Name of Christ, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr