Sermon Starter

Today is the Sunday we bring our gifts for the One Great Hour of Sharing offering. Today’s message is about more
than money for the offering. It is also about imagination!

We spend lots of time in church talking about budgets, ministry projects, deadlines, and needs. We seldom have opportunities to imagine together and to imagine with God.

In the Scripture this morning, we see a letter to the Ephesians. It is a celebration of church, of God’s imagination, and of God’s power within us. The message invites us to stretch beyond our present realities, and to embrace our connection to God and to each other. God desires for us to imagine ourselves in a few ways:

1. Through Connection: We know from Genesis, God is creator of everything, including every family or grouping. In community God wants us to know that we are all invited to the table. There is room for us here. This is a place of belonging.

Community and connection are at the center of the world that Jesus envisions for us. Racial and religious divisions that once dominated the landscape separating Jew and Gentile have been rendered irrelevant by the love of Christ. Paul reminds us that we are all included in “God’s family.”

2. With Strength, power, and faith: Paul’s prayer reveals tenderness and compassion for God’s people. Paul prays that we may be strengthened with power and know the indwelling presence of Christ. This is a reminder that the strength we have, and the power we are given is the power of Christ in us. We are not given strength for strength’s sake. We are given strength so that we may have the faith to do the things God has purposed for our lives.

We are reminded that faith is part of a bigger picture, and that our God given gifts of talents, material goods, and love, are part of a bigger picture, too! Our faith therefore, can only grow as we grow in our experience of
God’s amazing power in us and through us. It compels us to action. It compels us to reach beyond ourselves and to connect with God in amazing ways.

3. As Love: Love is a recurring theme throughout Scripture. God loves us, so that we may in turn love others. We are rooted and established in love. And through God’s love for us, Christ gave his life to ensure our salvation.

In our Scripture today, “Paul uses the words rooted and grounded”. Imagine for a moment how deep the roots of a large tree are. In order to keep the tree upright, the roots must be deep. That is how stable we can be in the knowledge that God loves each of us. And when we are grounded and secure—our ability to share love with others will extend like the branches of a large tree.

When we become filled with the knowledge of the love of God, we become more loving. We become more gracefilled. We become more generous people and communities.

4. Beyond our own imagination: Paul concludes the prayer and continues to stretch us by calling on the power of God that is already at work within us, connecting us to God’s imagination. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges the church faces today is that we place limitations on what God can do in our church and in our world, with and through us.

But, there is no limit to what God can do in response to our prayers, because God himself is limitless.” As we seek to imagine with God, we draw ever closer to the source of goodness and to an understanding of the love and power that Paul prayed over our churches. We can reach beyond the limits we have placed on our own ability to connect, to be strong, and to love.

Our giving to One Great Hour of Sharing is but one concrete way we can show we are willing to reach beyond what we can see. Our contributions become a part of God’s abundant blessings to brothers and sisters in need, worldwide.