Dear brothers and sisters in Christ of Calvary Lutheran Church,
Blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ!
As we enter the summer months, we enter into prime vacation time, when many of us can get away for a few days from our weekly routine. We get to visit friends and family, or just get away to a favorite fishing or camping spot. May God keep you safe on all your travels. While on vacation I urge you to try to find a place to worship your Lord on Sundays. My wife and I always look forward to visiting Missouri Synod Lutheran churches when we travel. A good way to find LCMS churches in the places you visit is by using the Synod’s church locator. If you go to the Synod’s website: www.lcms.org, you will see in the upper right hand corner “Locators and Directories”. Click on that and you will be taken to a page on which you can search for churches in the city or town you are visiting. You will find information on the churches’ web pages about worship times and directions.
Our one-day VBS went well. Hearty thanks to all the teachers and parents who helped put it together. We had twelve children attend a day filled with worship, learning, crafts, games, snacks, and music. The next day, in worship, several of the children sang songs they learned in VBS. We had a picnic after worship with hamburgers and hotdogs. Delicious side dishes and desserts were provided by congregation members. Thrivent education funds paid for the meat and buns, facilitated by Darlene Ferguson. Brent Cooper borrowed a gas grill and cooked the meats. Thank you Brent and Darlene, and all those who contributed dishes or work to the picnic.
This month I will continue with another stewardship message from Rev. H.R. Curtis’ book, Stewardship Under the Cross. This month’s letter is about tithing:
Do I have to tithe?
That is an interesting question: do we have to tithe under the New Testament? After all, tithing, that is, giving 10% of our income to God’s work in the Church, is a regulation of the Old Testament. We live under Christ in the New Testament so does this apply to us today?
We might approach our answer to this question by asking whether or not we have to keep the Third Commandment—which reads in full from Exodus 20:8-11.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant or your female servant or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. There fore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
So do we have to keep this commandment? Should we cease from all labor on Saturday as the people of the Old Testament did? Of course not! That was one of the Old Testament prophecies of Christ-and since Christ has fulfilled the Sabbath rest by resting in the tomb on Holy Saturday, we are free from the Old Testament Sabbath regulations. This St. Paul writes, “Let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Col. 2:16-17)
And yet, there the Third Commandment stands in our Small Catechism: Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy! What’s going on here? Well, look at Luther’s explanation of the third commandment: “What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but gladly hear and learn it.” So the form of the commandment, the letter of the law, has passed away as a shadow: but the spirit still remains. We are to honor God by our worship, by gladly receiving His Word and Sacraments in His Church.
So it is with tithing. The New Testament nowhere lists the precise regulations about giving this tithe and that tithe to the Levites and the Temple and so on. Those precise regulations were to point us to Christ, who represents the fullness of humanity though He is one Man, just as the tithe represented the fullness of the income of the people of Israel thought it was only 10% thereof. We are in now way bound to these precise legal regulations of Old Testament Israel.
And yet, just as the fulfilling of the Sabbath Day doesn’t mean that going to the Lord’s House for worship once a week is obsolete-so also the New Testament does not make faithful financial stewardship obsolete. Rather, the New Testament is full of admonitions on this point: “On the first day every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as each one of you may prosper.” (1 Cor. 16:2); “But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” (2 Cor. 8:7); “The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, and God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work.” (2 Cor. 9:6-8).
So just as the Old Testament’s once a week worship became the benchmark for New Testament worship, so also the Old testament’s tithe becomes the benchmark for New Testament stewardship. Not in the way of inflexible, minute regulations-but in the way of pattern and fulfillment. If in the New Testament we are called to give proportionally (“as each on may prosper”), weekly (“on the first day”) and “generously”-then surely the Old Testament tithe is the floor level of Christian giving, not the ceiling. As our worship in the New Testament is a greater fulfillment of the Old Testament Sabbath, so also our New Testament stewardship is called to be an even greater sacrificial fulfillment of the Old Testament tithing regulations.
Blessings in Christ Jesus, our Lord
In August, Pastor Wingfield would like to start an evangelism class to prepare the participants to share the Gospel message with others. We will be using the “Pass it On” evangelism tools that have been recommended to me by my seminary professor, Dr. Joel Biermann. I am excited to begin this group. If you would be interested in finding out more about this, or participating in the group, please contact me at 785-320-1993 or email@example.com.
Portals of Prayer
The new issue of Portals of Prayer is in your mailbox. If you’d like an additional copy, some are available on the information rack in the Parish Hall.
There will be a Cabinet Meeting Wednesday, July 29th at 7p.m.
The Pastor will be attending a Pastor’s Conference in Wichita July 21-23 at Trinity
Lutheran. If you have an emergency, you may reach him on his cell phone. 785-320-1993
Ice Cream Fundraiser for the Ministerial Alliance on July 11th from 6p-8p during the Wheat Festival. If you would like to donate 1-2 gallons of store bought or homemade ice cream, please let the Pastor know. All proceeds go to help the Ministerial Alliance to help the needy of the community with emergency help.
As the weather warms up and school is out for summer, more and more people will be out of town on Sunday mornings. Make it a point to find a church where you can worship away from home. Bring a bulletin home to share when you get back.