Homily – Sunday, the 13th November 2022
Reading: 1 Thess 3: 6-13
On this generosity Sunday/ Stewardship Sunday we thank the Lord for all the people of God whose hard work and generous giving made this world a beautiful place to live in.
In each of our lives we are indebted to so many people whose generosity we celebrate.
It was a culture of care, based on the love of God, made manifest in Christ, that we celebrate today.
It is true in our lives. It is true in the life of ACF too. People who loved us invested their mite and we celebrate as a congregation today, preparing to bear the weight for the future and to continue to give and grow.
While Stewardship is about the prudent management of God given resources, generosity is about the heart and willingness to share the blessings we receive with those around us.
I would want to draw your attention to a few thoughts from the first reading we had today from 1 Thess 3:6-13.
Paul uses a few words used only here in the Bible and it is worth taking a close look at those words as a mirror to our lives today.
Never get tired of doing good- continue doing what is right without weakening.
Is it possible to get tired of doing good?
Take a close look at the word- kalopoiontes
Kalos is good, poios is doing- creative doing- the same root as poem, poetry
What is the good work we are called to do?
An orphanage image of a young girl who came back after Christmas to her friends who had nowhere to go. One of them came gladly and said- my friend gave me this new dress. And the friend was asked- how many new dress did you get. She said only one. Why did you give away that one. Because my friend needed it more than me.
People who risked their lives and travelled with the light of the gospel ministering to those in the edges and peripheries. Is that the good work we talk about.
Mother Teresa said- All that I do for Christ is the good I do and I see Christ in every suffereing person around me.
Ekakkeu- the second word here is to go utterly spiritless, wearied out, exhausted and tired.
It is possible we get tired of doing good, we loose our spirit and fall into the rut of the mundane and the ordinary
Yes it is possible.
The first question is what good do we do in our lives and with our lives
The second question is do we get tired and worn out doing good.
Paul exhorts the Thesselonian Church
Do not be weary in doing what is right (13)v.
believers, do not grow tired or lose heart in doing good [but continue doing what is right without weakening].
Be careful of being counted as idle and busy bodies
Paul writes, We hear that some of you are idle- mere busybodies (v.11)
Ataktos is a Greek usuage used only twice in the Bible and both in the passage we read and periergazomai used only once in the Bible and that is here
Ataktos is often defined as idleness, disorderly behaviour, being out or rank, not disciplined.
What is this idleness that Paul is talking about here
Paul is writing about a work culture- In this short epistle he uses the word work seven times and then challenges idleness.
Idleness or Laziness can creep into all lives especially in the Spiritual realm. Spiritual Idleness can have its reflections on all realms of life
We must be clear here rest is not idleness- but then what is it
Carl G Jung said- a person can rot away if allowed to be in a state of idleness for some time.
Karl Marx- said machinery which is not used is not capital
Charlotte Bronte said- There is nothing I fear as much as idleness
And the old adage goes- an idle mind is the devil’s workshop
It lures you into the area of darkness, be it in cyber-space or personal-space.
Idleness is a reality in the life of individuals and sometimes churches too.
On the other hand is the word busybodies. The word used only here
Periergozomai. What is being busybodies- Busy all the time but for no avail in the ultimate count. Always meddling in the matters of others.
People are too busy that they neglect their own well being
They neglect their basic responsibilities to their families and their faith communities
Thoreau once asked- the question is- What are we busy about?
Being busy is the excuse your find for not doing some of the basic things expected of you as a human being and one of it is to be human.
We are reminded- we can be too busy doing nothing.
Do YOUR work quietly and earn your own living. Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.
Paul exhorts the church to remind everyone including the idle ones
Do your work silently. Not meddling in the affairs of others.
Do your know what your work is
The concept of Dharma- your responsibilities
It is not about the jobs you and I do to make a living
It is important too
But it the basic work you and I are called to do
Silently, Quietly, Without making any hue about it
It is about
Puthradharma/Puthridharma- responsibilities as children
Pathidharma/Pathnidharma- responsibilities as spouses
Pithadharma/Mathadharma- responsibilities as parents
Brathadharma- responsibilities as siblings
Sishyadharma- responsibilities as students
Gurudharma- responsibilities as teachers
Rajadharma- responsibilities as administrators
Samuhyadharma- responsibilities as social beings
The story is said about a sage who knocked at the door for alms but was furious at the lady of the house who was late to attend to him. When she came out she said- I was looking after my elderly parents- my puthradharma
He went to the butcher who neglected him and when he had send his customers he said I was doing my responsibilities to the customer as a service provider
What then is work- It is your responsibility
Some of that only you can do- and no body else
Time with God- is a responsibility of the disciple
Do your work quietly and earn your own living (v.12)
Do not eat but by the sweat of your toil.
Paul suggests the example of toil and labour night and day that we might not burden anyone
but with toil and labour we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. (v.8-10)
Thomas Edison once said- The three keys to success in life are hard work, hard work and hard work. He elaborated saying it only requires common sense to understand that.
The difference between ordinary and extra ordinary is just that little extra
Michelle Obama in her book Becoming- writes of an important point in the life of her husband. “The choice, as he saw it, was this: You give up or you work for change. “What’s better for us?” Barack called to the people gathered in the room. “Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?”
Working for a world as it should be involves hard work here and now
That could mean responding to climate change
WCC Executive Committee this week responding to the COP 27 summit reiterated the call to ‘to give the climate emergency the priority attention that a crisis of such unprecedented and all-encompassing dimensions deserves.
Paul talks about working hard- night and day. As a church what is it that we ought to work hard for.
What are the kingdom dreams that we toil for?
What must ACF be working towards?
What is our vision
What is our aim
What is our short term goals and long term goals
How hard are we willing to work together
Always be careful of your choice of friends
Paul writes here to keep away from people who are idle and disorderly
One of the best prayers parents can pray for children is that- God give them good friends.
One of the best prayers for our spouses is- God give them good friends
One of the best prayers for ourselves is- God always keep me in good company.
With so much unethical practices going around us just for the sake of profit
With so much drugs and alchohol destroying the lives of people around us
With so much of indoctrination and terrorism around us
With so much violence, bullying and shaming around us
With so much of brokenness around us
With so much psychological and emotional torture that people around us live with
It is important for us to affirm
Keep away from people who are idle and disorderly
While we continue to be responsible for the care and healing of the souls and transformation of their lives we must acknowledge that Godless companionship has also the potential to draw generations into a state of Godless living albeit temporarily since God can act in their lives at any point
So rather we could say- always be careful about the companionship you chose
ACF today is built on the hard work of many whom we know and do not know.
ACF today is built on the sacrificial giving of several people from all over the world
While we thank the Lord for each of them we are also reminded of the good work we are expected to do as a community of grace- not just to sustain us but beyond.
May God give us grace to be that community of grace we are called to be
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