This Lenten season, we are focusing on Holistic Stewardship, which is:
the good management of financial/material resources and our time, energy, and talents to care for, love, and serve our neighbors, all people, and the entire creation for the sake of God’s realm that is here, near, and not yet fulfilled (see 1 Corinthians 4:1-2).
Temple Talk (Sun., 17 March 2019):
Holistic Stewardship is not limited to, but does include, our management of our financial and material resources. This is perhaps the most awkward and challenging of the stewardship topics.
Financial stewardship can sound ‘business’ like for the church is similar to our businesses and our homes, for the church as a budget that requires income to cover our responsibilities and to support our ministries within and outside of these walls.
BUT, financial stewardship is also biblical and spiritual.
Scripture teaches of a tithe, or literally one-tenth of EVERYTHING for the sake of God’s people, will, and realm. The tithe was and is intended to provide for all who had not been given a piece of the physical ‘Promised Land’, who are the Levite priests, the widow, the orphan, and even the alien/foreigner who resides among us. In essence, those who are in the most need and are the “least of these”.
But, scripture also instructs us to give as our hearts are so called to give and thus not by force, threat, compulsion, or a dread sense of obligation. It is referred to as being a “cheerful giver” (see 2 Corinthians 9: 6-8).
However, we are NOT called to be like leprechauns who are obsessed with the collecting, hoarding, and protecting of their gold. According to the National Leprechaun Museum in Dublin (Ireland), the leprechauns are tricksters who will by any means possible seek to keep hoarding their gold for themselves.
So, on this Saint Patrick’s Day, I encourage us to not be like leprechauns.
I do encourage us to discern our needs verse our wants, in order to wisely discern our management of financial and material means for the sake of caring for, loving, and serving our neighbors, the creation, and God alike. Amen.
Mid-Week Reflection (Wed., 20 March 2019)
The stewardship of our financial and material resources seem to dominate discussions of holistic stewardship.
Financial stewardship is awkward and challenging, perhaps because it is to discuss two potentially uncomfortable topics: Money and Faith.
Although financial stewardship is biblically rooted in instructions for offerings, including a tithe, our emphasis on it is basically distinctive to America.
Let me explain.
European countries have historically collected a “church tax”. The tax payer has been permitted to decide if it will support the Roman Catholic or the Protestant churches, with increasing religious pluralism I hope the options have increased as well. This “church tax” financial supports the congregational budgets, maintaining the buildings, the clergy, their services, and their ministries despite the low attendance.
Our separation of Church and State prevents a “church tax” from being collected. Thus, our congregations and denominations had and continue to return to scripture, the teaching of tithing, and emphasizing stewardship for the financial support of congregational budgets, maintaining the buildings, the clergy, our services, and our ministries for the sake of God’s work, will, and realm, where all people and creation are cared for, loved, and served.
But, this also enables us to be ‘cheerful givers’, who search our hearts, discern our financial situations, and give without compulsion; thus, participating freely in God’s work in this time and place.
However, the financial stewardship discussion should not be limited to the funds we give to the church and/or charities. It also should include how we manage the use of all material resources and spending of all financial resources. For example:
Where do you shop and eat?
- what are their business practices?
- how do they treat their employees?
- how do they support the local community/communities?
Because, ultimately your business supports their business practices, treatment of employees, and support of the local community/communities.
So, how are you using your financial and material resources?
Are you mindful of how it affects your neighbor? humankind? creation?
Are you mindful of how it supports or distracts from God’s work, will, and reign?
May we be mindful about our management of financial and material resources
for the sake of all people and creation. Amen.