Acts 20:35 (The Message)
35 In everything I've done, I have demonstrated to you how necessary it is to work on behalf of the weak and not exploit them. You'll not likely go wrong here if you keep remembering that our Master said, "You're far happier giving than getting."
Maybe you've heard the story of the one-dollar bill that met the twenty-dollar bill and said, "Hey, where've you been? I haven't seen you around here much."
The twenty answered, "I've been hanging out at the casinos, went on a cruise and did the rounds of the ship, back to the United States for a while, went to a couple of baseball games, to the mall, that kind of stuff. How about you?" The twenty dollar bill asked the dollar bill.
The one dollar bill answered, "You know, same old stuff . . . church, church, church."
As most of you are probably aware, it take more than a few one dollar bills to maintain and expand the ministry of the Body of Christ at Clemmons United Methodist. In fact it takes $93,423 (That's $1,111,068 for the 12 months of 2017). Everything we do at Clemmons United Methodist church is about people, their transformation, their growth as disciples, their healing, and their wholeness. We help people who are searching, lost, and hurting. We are not only involved with people's lives in the church and community but also with people around the world.
We cannot forget the impact we have and continue to make on people's lives. Imagine what would happen if Clemmons UMC suddenly ceased to exist. It would be devastating to thousands of lives! Your giving makes the mission and ministry of Clemmons UMC possible. Without it we have to make difficult decisions about what we will cut or what cannot happen. Your gifts make a difference.
In Eugene Peterson's book, Run with the Horses, he told how he saw a family of birds teaching their young to fly. Three young swallows were perched on a dead branch that stretched over a lake. The mother swallow got alongside the chicks and started shoving them out toward the end of the branch. The first one fell off. Somewhere between the branch and the water four feet below, its wings started working, and the fledgling was off on his own. Then the second one took off the same way.
But the third chick was not to be bullied. At the last possible moment his grip on the branch loosened just enough so that he swung downward, then tightened again, bulldog tenacious. Mama bird was merciless. She pecked at the desperately clinging talons until it was more painful for the poor chick to hang on than risk the insecurities of flying. He let go, and the inexperienced wings began pumping. Mother swallow knew what the chick did not-that it would fly-and there was no danger in making it do what it was perfectly designed to do.
Peterson said, "Birds have feet and can walk. Birds have talons and can cling. But flying is their characteristic action, and not until they fly are they living at their best, gracefully, and beautifully."
For me, there are two points to Peterson's illustration. First, giving is what we do best. It is what we were designed to do. Some try desperately to hold on to themselves and what they have and are miserable in the process. We don't think we can live generously because we have never tried.
Secondly, there are people who are desperately hanging on to a troubled life. They can only let go if we are here as the Body of Christ to provide guidance and support through the love and fellowship of this community of faith. The two work together. There is our need to give and the desperate need of those in the world to know Christ. It's a match made in heaven and I know you want to be a part of it.