Friday, March 27, 2009

Faith-Based Stewardship

This lent has been a little unusual for us at St. Paul’s. We have had an intentional focus in our sermons on stewardship. I am thankful for the efforts others have made to do this series.

We began Lent with a dramatic reading of Oscar Wilde’s children’s book, "The Selfish Giant." It is a great way to bring into the focus the passion and love of Jesus Christ. It reminds us that while we were yet sinners, while we were yet selfish giants God loved us. The second Sunday focused on "Responsibility" and the need for us to show stewards to one another, by loving and caring one another. Then we heard a sermon on the idea of a "Narrative Budget" and that by telling our story differently we can bring life to the dry bones of a financial statement. Last week we hear a sermon on "Living Abundantly" and that God provides for our needs not necessarily our wants.

Today, the title of the sermon is "Money." And I bet that doesn’t scare you as much as it does me. I am grateful for LeaderResources (the people who produce our Sunday School curriculum) who have helped inform today’s sermon and the concept of faith-based stewardship.

There is nothing wrong with needing or even soliciting funds to support the building, salaries and programs of the church. Stewardship is the intentional use of all the resources and gifts God has given us to restore people to unity with God and each other in Christ and to further the reign of God on earth.

Stewardship is definitely about money but, it is also about our time, our relationships with our families, friends, neighbors and strangers, our homes and possessions, our relationship with God’s creation and the use of the earth’s resources, and much more. Being a good steward means being aware of the fact that God has given us all that we have and developing the practice of thankfulness and generosity.

Faith-based stewardship is based on the principle that God has given to each of us exactly what we need to do the work God has given us to do. God calls us to be who God created us to be—not to be anyone else. God calls us to do the ministry God has given us, not someone else’s. God gives us the gifts: the skills, the time, the relationships, the resources, the money we need to do the ministry we’ve been called to.

I believe that you already give; you already are good stewards of your resources. It is time to celebrate and give thanks for what God has given us. The time, talent and treasure you give. When we add up all that is given to this ministry, we’ll find that there is much more than anyone had been aware of.

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