Budgets and Faith September 24th Sermon

Let us pray. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable unto you our Lord our rock and our redeemer. Amen.
A year ago, John and I walked into our first Financial Peace University Class together. It was a bit terrifying. First, we walked into a different church hoping that we would not know others. We were not sure what to expect of the class, except that we had friends who went through the class together and spoke very highly of the program. We were unsure of what was going to be required. If we needed to share our financial statements, our bank account information, our struggles. Even for John and I, these were not easy conversations we had as a couple and as a family and the thought of having to have those kinds of conversations with others that we don’t know was scary. We didn’t want others to judge us. I would like to say that thankfully we didn’t experience any of those things.
But I think when we start having conversations with others about our finances, we fear that we will have to share more than we are ready to share or those uncomfortable spots in our lives. The places where we are not 100% sure whether or not we are doing it right or the standards of others and what we believe they are expecting of us. As I read this Gospel passage and know that we are in the midst of a stewardship campaign. I thought, about the judgment that the workers made about the landowner. Judgement over how he spent his money and where he spent it. I wonder if part of the judgment of the workers is that they themselves are insecure with their own money. If they knew that the amount that they agreed on for payment was not as much as they would have liked for their own family. And then to think that the landowner gave the same amount to people who did not work as hard as they did? Well, how could you not be jealous and wanting more money after all, that extra money would have been really helpful? It would have been wonderful to have the extra money to help provide for one’s family.
As I thought about this passage and our theme for the day focusing on creating a financial plan for us and our family, I saw an opportunity to judge and an opportunity to be generous. We could walk this way and judge the workers on what they said and how they act, even though let’s be honest, we might, no wait probably, at the same way. Let’s talk about the judgment first, we shouldn’t do it, ever, even if we really want to or think that it is ok because others are doing it. Ok, now that that part is done, let’s explore the other side of this parable. The side that invites us to be as generous as God is generous to all of us.
For looking at what Scripture tells us how we should engage in our finances. What living as a disciple means for us, not just in how we engage with our faith, with one another, and with the community in which we live. But also with our finances. Our world would have us believe that we are made to consume- to get as much money as possible and spend as much as we can. But that is not what the Bible tells us to do or to be. The Bible tells us that we are to be disciples, we are to be like Christ, we are to be caretakers of what God has created. We are to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. We are to forgive, to love, and to welcome.
In these ways, we can be generous. In these ways, in love, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, and welcoming can abound. That might be the easier way of being generous. When they don’t necessarily require us to plan, have conversations, and make decisions. But we can be generous with our finances as well. But it might take some planning, some tough conversations, and some sacrifices. In Scripture, we are invited to be generous first. We are invited to give from the top, not from whatever is left over. And notice what else that means. When we give from the top, it also means we are invited to plan how we will spend and use our resources we have and how we will use them. The best part is that no one else can tell us whether or not our budget is correct or right or good enough. It is ours and if we spend time faithfully looking at our finances and faithfully then it will always be right. I told you last week that this stewardship campaign would look at stewardship scripturally and practically. Today, you maybe have noticed an additional sheet in your bulletin. On one side it is titled, “My Life and Financial Goals Worksheet” and the other side is a “Basic Budget Worksheet.” These are two resources that can help you as you look at your own finances and budget. As you discern what God has entrusted to you and how you want and will respond. You also are encouraged to pick up a six financial principals to help you in this journey. The idea for the cling is to place it on a mirror or a window that you will see often. There are six tips and financial planning strategies along with scripture verses. These tools can be helpful to you and your household especially if you have never had a conversation about budgets, spending, giving, and how you can be generous. These are all tools to help you and your household and to not judge one another.
So let us all work at taking the next steps in becoming more generous and less judgmental of one another.
Let us pray. Heavenly Father, you are more gracious and generous than we could ever fully comprehend. Help us in our lives that we spend less time judging others we may become more generous in our lives and in this community. Help us, guide us, and strengthen for the journey ahead. In your name, we pray. Amen.

Pastor Katie has served St. Paul Hametown since July 2012. She is a graduate of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg with a Masters of Divinity and a concentration in Theology and Public Life. She is married with three children.

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