Greetings in Christ, friends! Every now and then, I feel the urge to ask the question, “WHAT IS STEWARDSHIP?” Because when I hear others start talking about that term, even very recently, invariably they want to associate it with some or most of the following words: money, drive or campaign, pledges, commitment, obligation, Fall, managing.
But how many of these words are an integral part of stewardship? Realistically – only one – managing. I have spent much of my ministerial career wondering how stewardship became associated with Fall pledge drives – to the point where I am astounded anyone thinks that has anything to do with stewardship anymore, not to mention any kind of real effectiveness.
Stewardship is a relationship where God has shown us both who He is and the privilege He has given us in being allowed to “have dominion over the earth.” Stewardship goes to the heart of the Triune God and the functions we associate with each – the Father and creation, the Son and redemption, and the Holy Spirit and the work of faith.
Obviously, those are things we cannot do. And yet, because these have already been done by the Holy Trinity, now we get to share in the bounty of what those have produced and be joyful managers of what that now gives.
While I have repeated this often, this is a (VERY GOOD!) definition of Christian stewardship from our own church body: “CHRISTIAN STEWARDSHIP is the free and joyous activity of the child of God and God’s family, the church, in managing all of life and life’s resources for God’s purposes.”
From this, I have gleaned three important truths: A) Stewardship is all about everything – especially the most important things – God has given us; B) Stewardship starts with the relationship that the church, the bride of Christ has with her bridegroom, the Savior who gave His life for us; and C) Stewardship is a RESPONSE to the love of God being given us in such great abundance.
Almost every year that I have been here (and this will begin year #9), I have tried to spend some time in Winter, before Lent, placing our spiritual focus on matters of stewardship. This year will be no different, even though I had to postpone it for three weeks thanks to a nasty virus (thank you, everyone for your prayers). And the themes of this year really do go right to the heart of the response we have to all the precious things our Savior has shared with us.
And so, beginning this weekend, we will spend four weeks dialing into some of the most precious things given to us by our Lord and what we can – and need to – do with each. Join us for the following:
WEEK 1 - January 28-29: GOD GIVES - WE RESPOND TO - HIS WORD. If we want to know God, we must know His Word. But how well do we know His Word? How often, and in how many areas of life do we use it. With the help of a special gift, we will be given the opportunity to use God's most precious gift, by which He shows us and gives us knowledge of His gifts of the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation;
WEEK 2 - February 4-5: GOD GIVES - WE RESPOND TO - THE LIGHT OF CHRIST. Into this darkened world came our Savior. And what did He do - shine His light into our hearts so it can be reflected into the world He was present at creation to share. With the help of a special gift, we will see how we can shine Christ's light from us and brighten the world to fulfill His purposes for us;
WEEK 3 - February 11-12: GOD GIVES - WE RESPOND TO - THE LOVE OF JESUS. This is "Jesus Loves Me" weekend. We will hear a couple of special songs from our Sunday School children and watch a most touching video. And we will have gifts both for our children and for our children to share;
WEEK 4 - February 18-19 [The Transfiguration of our Lord weekend]: GOD GIVES - WE RESPOND TO - THE TRUE MOUNTAINTOP EXPERIENCE OF GENEROUS HEARTS THAT HAVE SEEN THE TRUE BRILLIANCE OF OUR SAVIOR. After having received gifts the first three weeks, now we ponder the gifts that God has given us (which go beyond our comprehension) that we can give back - the reflection that the steward does his job faithfully and is prepared to make sure that God's love is going to flow forth from a willing and joyful heart. This is a perfect lead-in to our Lenten season, which is coming up on us fast (now less than four weeks away).