Sermon, January 24, 2016

Here is the sermon by guest preacher, our own Dan Perry, Deacon and acting Moderator:


During High School the music director Evelyn Springstead (Mary and Martina you remember her), asked me to direct part of the concert. As I began directing the piece with the auditorium full of spectators, I remembered during practice someone pointed out that my fly was open so I got the chorus attention by checking my fly first. The song went great. Later I learned a joke was the way to start a speech rather than with apology.

The Webster Dictionary description of the word tithe means simply a TENTH. It was the original way of spelling which was later changed to    T E N T H. The accepted definition for tithe is=“ a tenth of one’s income paid to the Church”. It has always been my understanding that you were expected to give a tenth of your income to support your church. How could anyone afford to give this much? I never could!! Doesn’t make any difference whether before or after all other expenses.

I went to the internet and typed in ‘tithing’ and it brought up ‘Questions and answers for TITHE’, many of which I will now share with you today.

The Tithing system, which started in Genesis, served a very useful purpose to support the tribe of Levi who had not been allocated a share of the land divided among the other tribes of Israel. Quoting – Numbers 18:21 ‘Behold I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as and inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting.’

Also in Numbers 18:26, ‘when you take from the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you …then you shall offer up a heave offering of it to the Lord, a tenth of the tithe.     Heb 7:5 and indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law that is from their brethren. A tithe was composed of – grain, wine, oil, honey and all other produce of the land. (1Cor 9:9) For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Do you think it could have been the oxen God was concerned about?? I think not. It was to let them tread all of the grain withholding none. It does not say how the grain was tread out? Did they just let the oxen walk all over the laid out grain? I suspect the oxen were connected somehow to turn a stone.

Have you been to the Mill Restaurant, down by the dam? The entry way is now bricks lay in a circle, but when it first opened, in 1988, they had found a round grinding stone and placed it in the entry way. This was about 8 feet in diameter.

Of course in the 18 or1900’s when this building was used as a Mill they probably did not use oxen to turn it but instead used water power from the river.

Last month at the Christmas Eve service we find Jesus was born in Bethlehem, WHY? Was it because like today there were others that could help in the birth? Did the long walk induce the labor? Like when a bouncy ride across Lake Champlain caused Marcy to be born within one hour.

I read this passage from Luke 2:1, 3-7” And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. And all went to be taxed, everyone, into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, ( because he was of the house and lineage of David,) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. It doesn’t say how or how much he was taxed.

Could it be that a tithe was a method of taxation? In the world today, before bringing your pay check home more than 10 percent (tithe) has been deducted for taxes and when you file annually it may become much larger tax.

In Nehemiah 10:30 it says…and the Levites shall bring up a tenth of the tithes to the house of our God. If the word tithe means 1/10th, then how much is a tithe of the tithes? It also required many separate tithes-one for the Levites, one for the use of the temple, and one for the poor of the land –which would, according to this article, amount to 23.3 percent. Someone also figured this might mean 1/1000th. Now I am not trying to say that these are untrue, but you have heard the saying that ‘Figures don’t lie, but liars can figure’! In my math, which is not always right, if a tithe is 1/10 (.10 then times .10) it equals 1/100th.

This might be doable for some since with income of $50,000 per year, 10% is $5,000 and 10% of that would be $500. When I was Finance Chair with 50 pledges about 50% were giving 1 to 500 dollars to pledge to raise $49,500.

The key to understanding the relationship between the Christian and the Law is knowing that the Old Testament law was given to the nation of Israel, not to Christians. Some of the laws such as the Ten Commandments were how to obey and please God. When JESUS died on the cross, He put an end to the Old Testament Law as is found In the new testament, (Romans 10;4= For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. And Galatians 3:23-25; But before faith came we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. After faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. (law)

As Christians do we still have to obey the Old Testament Law and continue to ‘tithe’??   In 2 Corinthian 9:6+ 8==But this I say: The one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have abundance for every good work. The New Testament does not command, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. It does not set a percentage but only says gifts should be in keeping with income(1 Corinthians 16:2) Everyone should pray and seek God’s wisdom in the matter of participating or how much to give.

When choosing to give you do have plenty of freedom to consider your own financial circumstance. There is also no implied need to donate if you are not benefiting spiritually from the labor of a minister or ministry. Quite clearly however, if you do benefit from the study of another there is an obligation to return this favor through the provision of material assistance.

(2 Corinthians 9:7 Each of you must give as you have made up your mind and heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

If tithing to the Church is no longer required by the New Testament as it was in the Old Testament! What about the giving of material things like MONEY ??   There is no question that maintaining a minister, providing heating etc. and repairing the building and parsonage, and many other costs cannot be accomplished without our offerings. Loose offerings are certainly accepted, but we cannot continue with only everyone supporting and holding fund raisers. Or volunteers doing janitorial cleaning, minor repairs, the holding of unpaid positions, ushering, after service coffee, Community suppers, Yard sales, Interstate coffee, Bazaars, no bake/bake sale, Chicken Pie Suppers and Game Suppers. The Search Committee needs your cooperation on the pledges so they can determine which to call for ½, ¾ or full time.

We have to have income to offset expenses. When trying to form the annual budget we need Pledges that we can count on!!

With a budget calling for $50,000 from pledges and another $10,000 in loose offerings, we would need 40 givers averaging $1500 each or $30 dollars every week. Now reduce the 40 to only about the 20 we now have and you do the math. ($3,000 each) Each of you must make up your own minds!!

Rev. Harvey Bartlett quoted this saying—“Money can buy the husk of many things, but not the kernel. It brings you food, but not appetite, medicine but not health, acquaintances but not friends, servants but not faithfulness, days of joy but not peace and happiness.” Story later.

As I said before, Each of you must give as you have made up your mind and heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion,