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God's Story, Your Story and Our Story Through the Eyes of the Gospel Writers:

Warm Relationships and Their Significance for Being Best Neighbors In The Public Square--Joy Happens To Us: a Reflection on Isaiah 25:1-9 and Matthew 22:1-14

Partnering With God. Connecting With One Another. Moving from a mindset of

scarcity to abundance is essential for our lives as Christians and a church.

Impacting others with the good news of Jesus Christ comes from a place of knowing and experiencing that Jesus loves you unconditionally and faithfully, just the way you are and gives you courage to live authentically with who you are, becoming the person God created you to be. You will be content and experience joy.

What a gift contentment and joy is in the midst of the important public square discussions of racial equity, education, climate change, health care, gender equality and immigration. These discussions can generate hope that life truly can be more equal and equitable for all. Hope is the expectation and desire that things can be different. We are grateful for realized hope.

Hope realized produces joy. Joy is “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.”[1] Imagine being a congregation filled with people centered in joy and gratitude, because of our interconnectedness with one another and Jesus Christ.[2]

Everything we have and are, our Life Wallet, can change life for someone, somewhere, somehow. Everything we are and have is a gift from God. The Bible teaches us to tithe, that is give 10% of all that we are cognitively, affectively, physically, and financially.

The Rev. Dr. John Huffman a friend, colleague and mentor is with us this morning to discuss tithing and the joy experienced as we partner with God and connect with one another in God’s mission. John retired in 2010 after serving 32 years as the Pastor/Head of Staff at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach. Let’s join my interview with the Rev. Dr. John Huffman.


Go to the genevapresoc YouTube page to experience the interview

Thank you, John. Isaiah 25:1-9 and Matthew 22:1-14 set forth the reality of a mindset and experience of scarcity juxtaposed to the promise of a mindset and experience of abundance. Claiming the promise of God’s abundance, expecting and desiring hope to be realized, enables individual Christians and particular congregations to navigate the real-life mindset and experience of scarcity to a different outcome. Did you know poverty is experienced by 8.8 percent of the world’s population? The poverty rate is 9.2 percent in the United States. The rate for white, non-Hispanic people in our country is 6.6 percent; the rate for Black, non-Hispanic people is 15.2 percent; and the rate for Hispanic people is 13.8 percent.[3] If we experience the unconditional and faithful love of God, we have caught a glimpse of the banquet and want others in attendance. Both mindset and actual experience of scarcity is transformed in Christ.[4]

God has given all the resources humanity needs to live a life of abundance in mindset and experience. On this Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost imagine partnering with God and connecting with one another to work toward and hope for a fully invested, loving community who serve and worship and love together. Imagine being church joyfully and gratefully in the polarized public square discussions building unity instead of division that is working for the common good.

If you have caught a glimpse of the banquet, what are you going to do now? Start tithing, giving 10 % of the monies you have been given by God. Joy happens to us through obedience. Let’s serve and love others into the party that God is throwing.

[1]The Concise Oxford Dictionary, Tenth Edition (New York City, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 764. [2]Adapted from Brene Brown, The Gifts Of Imperfection (Center City, Minnesota: Hazeldon Publishing, 2010), 78. [3]Statistics taken from [4]In this paragraph of textual analysis, I have benefited from the thinking of Miguel A. De La Torre, Brian D. Russell, Michael E. Lee and Theodore J. Wardlaw in Joel B. Green, Thomas G. Long, Luke A. Powery, Cynthia L. Rigby and Carolyn J. Sharp, editors, Connections, Year A, Volume 3 (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2019), 372-375, 375-376, 385-387 and 387-388.

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