October 2011 Newsletter "Being a Steward: A responsibility of all disciples".
When you think of the word Stewardship you may think, “uh oh, it’s time to talk money again at church,” and you would be partly correct, but Stewardship includes so much more. Stewardship (as defined in Webster’s Dictionary) refers to “the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.” When we explore the nature of stewardship there are several questions that need to be considered (1) of what are we stewards; what has been entrusted to our care? (2) To who does that over which we are stewards, belong? (3) Are we all called to be stewards? If we can answer these questions, then we as God’s people will have a sound, theological understanding of one of the most important responsibilities we have as disciples of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Something entrusted to one’s care.
Take a moment and breathe in, hold it for a second, now breathe out. Consider for a moment that every aspect of our lives is transitory. Each breath we take, each moment we spend in our lives, all the work we have been given to do, everything we have, and every relationship we share, is really not ours to control. We are stewards for a fleeting time. All this, which we have been entrusted to care is for the span of our lives alone. The time we have been given, the talents with which we have been graced, and the treasure with which we oversee are all gifts that we have been entrusted to us for a brief time.
To who does that over which we are stewards, belong?
The fact that God is the Creator and the source of everything, is at the core of our confessional faith. When we recite the Nicene Creed, we proclaim, “We believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven Earth.” When we make that statement, we are acknowledging that God is the source of everything we survey, everything with which we come in contact, and everything with which we are entrusted to care. We often struggle to grasp that God is the ultimate source of our Time, Talent and Treasure, because each one of us considers our own work and efforts as the catalyst for all that we have been given. Yet, if we acknowledge that God is the source of everything, then we acknowledge too that all that we have, all that we are, and all that we do ultimately is for God’s purposes. Our Time, Talent, and Treasure all belong to someone else; they belong to God and as such, their use and ultimate intention is for the fulfillment of God’s purpose.
We all are called to be stewards.
The charge that “We all are called to be stewards,” is not something of which, we can “opt-out.” Whether we respond to the fact that we are stewards or not, whether we manage all that we are, all that we have been given, and all that we do in such a way that fulfills God’s purpose for our lives, the fact remains that we are stewards. Our Time, Talent, and Treasure have been given to us with the responsibility for conducting, supervising, or managing them so that they ultimately fulfill their intended purpose. Stewardship is our responsibility, not our choice.
On page 855 of the Book of Common Prayer, God’s purpose for creation and the Church’s mission in fulfilling that purpose is outlined in the “Mission of the Church.” The catechism states that the mission of the church is “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” The Church is planted in the midst of a community so that it may serve as a lighthouse, where others may discover God’s love, grace, mercy, and reconciliation. We gather as a community of love so that we might serve as the example of God’s purpose for creation. Jesus taught us that the two great commandments is to love God and love each other and thus, we the Church are commissioned to be guides, examples, and mentors so that others may come to know God, be in unity with God and each other in Christ.
In the month of October, we will be exploring more a disciple’s responsibility of stewardship. As we come toward the end of the month of October, we will be asked to offer a pledge to God from our gifts, in response to the abundant grace that we have been given to supervise and manage. Prayerfully consider not only your pledge of treasure that supports St. David’s mission of love and reconciliation in this community in which we have been planted, but also consider your pledge of Time and Talents as well. With each breath, we have been given the gift of life but only for a time, yet we are charged with overseeing that gift so that God’s purposes might be fulfilled. In grateful thanksgiving to God, may we offer back for God’s purposes, a portion of our Time, Talent, and Treasure so that others may come to know God’s abundant, overflowing, never-ending love.