Jesus is risen from the dead, and He is not angry. He appears to the eleven, locked and hidden away for fear of the Jews. He gives them peace, when there seems to be no peace. He gives them hope, when all hope seems to be lost. He gives them forgiveness, life, and salvation, even though they all fled and watched Him die. But Christ is risen and He is not angry. No one took His life from Him, but He laid it down willingly. He offered it up of His own accord. Thus, He does not blame them. He is not angry. He gives them His Spirit that they may be one and not alone, that they may have peace, that they may live forgiven and free from fear, that they might go do the same into all the world. Christ is risen and He is not angry.
Our God is a God who gives gifts. He gives because that is who He is and what He does. He created us for this purpose. The God who is love created us to be loved. And to love is to give of oneself for the good of another. And so He gives daily bread. He gives food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, and faithful neighbors.
He also gave us His only-begotten Son. And everything He did, He did for us. He took up our flesh, was born of a woman, to fulfill the Law for us. He was circumcised, had sacrifices offered on His behalf, denied Himself certain foods, and ate the Passover to end them all. The same is true of the Moral Law. He kept it for us. His fasting and temptation were done for us. He fulfilled what we were unable, and unwilling, to do. But that is not all. He not only kept the Law, He also allowed the Law to do to Him all that justice demanded it do to us. He who knew no sin, became sin. The guiltless guilty with His own Blood upon His hands.
And still he gives us more. He gave us His Spirit, the Spirit of Truth. Through the means of grace—the Word, Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, the Holy Supper—the Spirit of Christ continues to deliver the fruits of His death and pour the benefits of His resurrection upon our heads, into our ears and mouths. We are not alone. We are not left as orphans. He is with us; He is for us, through these means. And by them we are knitted together into one body. This is the giving nature of our God. The depths of His love know no bounds.
Despite all this, we still hold back. We don’t give cheerfully from our first fruits. We don’t with glad hearts, with planning and forethought, set our minds to give to the ministry of Word and Sacrament for the life of the world. We tend to give begrudgingly, apprehensively, and with what is left over. We don’t give out of love for God and one another, as those united by His Spirit in the bond of peace, but out of a feeling of compulsion. How will they know us by our love, when we do not even love the means by which God gives us His love enough to support it with the other gifts He has given?
If you find it difficult to give freely, cheerfully, and proportionally, you are not alone. That sin, that selfishness is something inherent to our fallen nature. No, you are not alone. We have been knitted together into one body by the Holy Spirit. We are to bear one another’s burdens. So let not your hearts be troubled. For the God of Love, the giver of every good and perfect gift, has given His own Son to bear yours. He carries your anxiety and worry. He dispels all your fears. Do not be afraid. Give from out of your poverty or your abundance. It matters not. Because Jesus is risen from the dead and He is not angry. He ascended into heaven to fill all things. He fills you with His peace, His joy, His generosity, and His love. And nothing can separate you from that.
From the board of stewardship