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The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Sunday, October 05, 2014


Fund Raising Teaching Sermon by the Rev. Robert Warren Cromey, priest associate at St. John’s SF

GOSPEL:  Matthew 21: 33 - 46  

Matt 21:33 (NRSV) "Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 34 When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. 35 But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, "They will respect my son.' 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, "This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.' 39 So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40 Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?" 41 They said to him, "He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time."
42 Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the scriptures:
"The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord's doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes'?
43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. 44 The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls."
45 When the chief priests and the Phar'isees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. 46 They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

In Jesus parable just read don’t we sympathize with the landowner? Don’t we want to condemn the tenants for being so ungrateful and beating and killing the slaves who come from the landowner? Don’t we root for their punishment? Of course we do.

Not so quick! Jesus is a revolutionary. He wants justice for the poor. In Jesus’ day Chief priests and the Pharisees are the landowners, they are exploiting the tenants, paying them little and taking the profits for themselves. The poor become so desperate that they beat and kill the emissaries of the landowners. Jesus is criticizing the economic system of his day.

Sounds like big business today. Profits sky rockets, wages remain low and get lower as inflation sets in. People are getting angry. Let us hope and pray it does not lead to violence.

The religious and political and business leaders in Jesus’ time did not have generous hearts toward the poor. They withheld wages and money.

Our congregation looks at raising funds for the work of this church, the diocese and the larger church.

What is a pledge? It is a promise to pay. When I pledge money to the support of St. John’s I say I promise to give to St. John’s an amount of money to help pay for the salaries, upkeep of the building and the necessary expenses to keep our church going forward into ministry.

Specifically that means we been to pay for gas, electricity, paper goods, insurance, telephone and salaries of the Vicar, Musician, office staff and building maintenance. Like any other home or business there are basic expenses that need too be incurred and paid for.

We receive no money from the diocese, the national church or foundations. We are on our own and we pay as we go. We depend entirely on the gifts the members of the church. We get a modest income from weddings, funeral and rents from groups that rent the space, like receptions, AA meetings and occasional community events. It is up to us to give money to support this wonderful church.

By making a promise to pay, the Bishop’s committee can then make up a budget based on the anticipated income. This helps us plan to distribute money to pay our bills.

After you make your pledge, I want to be clear that this is an entirely free pledge to pay. No creditors will call, no threats will be sent.

We will simply chop off your head for not keeping up your pledge.

. No worry. No beheading but please keep your pledge. If you need to reduce or increase you pledge for any reason just contact the church office, which we try to keep closed as much as possible.

Now let’s think about how much to give.

Tithe- means ten percent of you income.

In Christianity, some interpretations of Biblical teachings conclude that although tithing was practiced extensively in the Old Testament, it was never practiced or taught within the first-century Church. Instead, the New Testament scriptures are seen as teaching the concept of "freewill offerings" as a means of supporting the church: 1 Corinthians 16:2, 2 Corinthians 9:7. Also, some of the earliest groups sold everything they had and held the proceeds in common to be used for the furtherance of the Gospel: Acts 2:44-47, Acts 4:34-35.

Further, Acts 5:1-20 contains the account of a man and wife (Ananias and Sapphira) who were living in one of these groups. They sold a piece of property and donated only part of the selling price to the church but claimed to have given the whole amount and immediately fell down and died when confronted by the apostle Peter over their dishonesty.

Do some math. If you earn 50,000 a year, the tithe would be 5000 a year or 416.00 per month. 30000 a year, the tithe would be 3000 a year or 250 per month.

Modern tithe is 10 % to church and charity. Half to the church and half to charities of your choice.

All that being said, here at S.J. we ask you to make a free will offering of whatever you can to support the life and work of this church. It is up to you.

The Generous heart

Three people from our church are wiling to donate a kidney for Deacon Jackie whose kidney needs replacement. Generous hearts.

There is a story where a woman was certain she sees the ghosts of naked little children by the road at night, hungry and crying. She puts out for them. The dogs eat it. She puts out more of it. A generous heart.

This is what it means to have a generous heart. Please pledge money to the life and work of St. John’s with a generous heart.

RWC  - 10/5/2014


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