The title of my sermon this morning comes from Paul's letter to
the Philippians that was read: "I Am Confident of This." I want to
focus on confidence. I have two stories to share with you.
A Prime Minister of a country was sitting in his office
wondering how to invade the country bordering his, when his
"Hallo, Mr. Prime Minister!" a heavily accented voice said.
"This is Burt, down at the tea house in a city in the country next
to yours. I am calling to tell you that we are officially
declaring war on you, yes you!"
"Well," the Prime Minister replied, "This is indeed important
news! How big is your army?"
"Right now," Burt said, after a moment's calculation "there is
myself, my cousin, my next-door-neighbor, and the whole team from
the tea house. That makes eight!"
The Prime Minister paused. "I must tell you Burt, that I have
one million men in my army waiting to move on my command."
"Holy smokes," said Burt. "I'll have to call you back!"
Sure enough, the next day, Burt called again.
"Mr. Prime Minister, the war is still on! We have managed to
acquire some infantry equipment."
"And what equipment would that be Burt?"
"Well sir, we have two Mercedes 180, and a truck."
The Prime Minister sighed. "I must tell you Burt,, that I have
16,000 tanks and 14,000 armored personnel carriers. Also I've
increased my army to one and a half million since we last spoke."
"Yikes!", said Burt, "I'll be getting back to you."
Sure enough, Burt rang again the next day.
"Mr. Prime Minister, the war is still on! We have managed to
get ourselves airborne! We modified a helicopter with a couple of
shotguns in the cockpit, and four more neighbors have joined us as
The Prime Minister was silent for a minute then cleared his
throat. "I must tell you Burt that I have 10,000 bombers and
20,000 fighter planes. My military complex is surrounded by
laser-guided, surface-to-air missile sites. And since we last
spoke, I've increased my army to TWO MILLION!"
"Good Grief," said Burt, "I'll have to call you back."
Sure enough, Burt called again the next day.
"Mr. Prime Minister, I am sorry to have to tell you that we
have had to call off this war."
"I'm sorry to hear that" said the Prime Minister. "Why the
sudden change of heart?"
"Well, sir," said Burt, "we've all sat ourselves down and had a
long chat, and come to realize there's no way we can feed two
You may not have heard that one, but this second one some of
you have heard, I'm sure.
As the drought continued for what seemed an eternity, a small
community of mid-west farmers felt it was time to get involved and
called a prayer meeting to ask for rain. The pastor watched as the
congregation filed in. Everyone was taking the opportunity to
visit across the aisles to socialize with close friends. The
pastor's thoughts were on quieting those present and starting the
meeting. As he began to ask for quiet, his eyes scanned the crowd
and he took note of an eleven year-old girl sitting in the front
row. Her face was beaming with excitement and she quietly sat in
her place. The beauty and innocence of the girl made the pastor
smile as he realized the faith she possessed, for next to her,
poised and ready for use, was a bright red umbrella. No one else
in the congregation had brought an umbrella. They had all come to
pray for rain, but she had come confident that God would answer
with the needed rain.
Confidence. Where does confidence come from? The Bible tells us
not to place our confidence in kings or horses, meaning not in
mankind or things that seem powerful, like horses seemed to them
(we still talk about engines in terms of 'horse power'), and in
this day and age, things that seem powerful are institutions and
systems and big business, and most of all money. The Bible,
however, tells us to place our confidence in God.
Last week we voted on a budget. It was not a budget of
confidence, of vision, except in one aspect. The majority of folks
voted for the budget that included a vision for the future,
confident that God would supply what was needed to make it happen.
I'm grateful that, despite a seeming set back of a year, enough
folks still believed in a vision for the future of Trinity that
included getting a staff person who would focus on family and
There are some members and myself who will never see eye to eye
on what stewardship is, and whose money it is that this church has
been blessed with. Whatever we have individually, and whatever
this church has stored up, is God's money. But praise be to God we
are moving forward and hopefully more and more people will catch
the vision and believe that God, who began a good work among us,
will bring it to completion. I am confident of this.
I could not be confident of this if I thought it depended on
how well we made out in our financial investments. Or even that it
depended on my making pleas to members that if they voted for a
budget that means that they will support that budget. No. It will
be by the power of Jesus the Christ and the Holy Spirit that it
will come about, and it will not come about without them. We have
to be open to the power of the Spirit to work through us to
accomplish what God wants, what God has started in us. You may
think that it was a simple vote on the budget that we took last
week, but believe me, God sees way beyond that, and looks into our
hearts and expects results.
Jesus wants everyone to know about God's love and forgiveness
and that happens through spreading the Word, letting people know
just how powerfully we have experienced God in our lives, and it
happens through acts of kindness and compassion on our part in the
name of Christ. This church, this congregation, exists for those
reasons. It does not exist to be self-serving, just to make
members happy and satisfied and fulfilled, like some sort of club.
We are here to learn more about God's wondrous creation and how
to take care of it; we are here to grow in our understanding of
what God expects of us; grow in our relationship with God so we
can better serve others in Christ's name. We are here to learn
forgiveness and how to let go of grudges and negative thoughts; we
are here to learn how to love our enemies. But NONE of that is for
our benefit only. It is for the benefit of others and to the glory
of God. What we learn here, how we grow here is to be shared with
those who don't know the love of Christ in their lives; those who
still struggle in darkness and can't see the promise of the Light;
those who have no hope.
I am confident that God will work wonders through this
congregation as long as we put our confidence in God, trusting
that as we reach out to families and youth that God will bring to
completion and bless every act of kindness and compassion; every
act of care and concern; every act of joy in sharing; every
expression of love for others through Christ.
I am confident. May you be confident as well, in the name of
Jesus and the power of the Triune God, the Trinity of Father, Son
and Holy Spirit.