Hebrews 13: 1-16
Luke 14:1, 7-14
Happy are those who fear the LORD,
who greatly delight in His commandments.
It is well with those who deal generously
who conduct their affairs with justice.
For the righteous will never be moved;
they will be remembered forever.
- Psalm 112: 1, 5-6
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured….
Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for He has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” …
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. - Hebrews 13: 2-3, 5, 16
[Jesus said, ] “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” - Luke 14: 12-14
All of you need to know that giving to poor people and oppressed people is a basic part of following Jesus.
As a congregation, Bethel conducts several programs to feed and otherwise care for people who are in need. I want to list them all, but I am concerned that I will leave out something important. Please tell me if I skip a program that you care about, and in the near future, I will use this space to shine a spotlight on it.
First, looking at our church’s 2016-2017 annual budget, there are several such ministries under “Church Outreach” : Doctors Without Borders (a.k.a. “M.S.F.”), Elkton Area United Services (“E.A.U.S.”), our local rescue squads and fire departments, First Step, Hoffman Homes for Youth, the Salvation Army, Smile Train, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and one individual.
Next in our budget comes the part of “Church Outreach” that has been placed under my discretion as pastor. During the course of a year, I use it to meet needs of a few struggling families with electric bills, rent, and food.
Our Women’s Fellowship supports The Heifer Project, which enables families and communities to develop and sustain livestock, giving both short-term food and long-term opportunities to make a living. Women’s Fellowship also conducts outreach missions such as “Love Thy Neighbor” to disadvantaged neighbors in institutions.
Then there are a number of free-will offerings which we regularly collect each year at Bethel: additional money and food for E.A.U.S. at “Souper Bowl” time, One Great Hour of Sharing, Neighbors In Need, The Christmas Fund (“Veterans of the Cross”), and Our Church’s Wider Mission— which supports the “overhead” costs of numerous other mission programs, so that money given to those programs need not be spent on “overhead.” And, each month, our church gives peanut butter and other non-perishable foods to the E.A.U.S. food pantry. For the August food distribution there, we gave 55 jars of P.B., which weighed 97 lbs.!
We sign up to give desserts to Meals On Wheels.
Also, there are the occasional special offerings: we recently gathered nearly $1,200 for West Virginia flood relief. [At the end of September, this year, you may participate in or otherwise support a mission trip to go to central WV to help re-build some housing which was lost to the flood.] At times, we have taken special offerings for folks’ medical treatment, or relief after a fire or flood.
Once in a while, we as a church do actual, personal outreach to poor folks- such as when we brought residents of Elkton Manor to a dinner-and-a-movie event at Bethel.
That’s what I see going out from our church.
Beyond that, many of you personally give to poor and troubled folks in other ways. Praise God !!
Remembering what Jesus said about “When you did it for the least of these, you did it for me” … makes me want to give all that I can.
It’s no sin to be cautious in your giving, BUT don’t let an excess of caution prevent you from being generous. Jesus and the angels are waiting.