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Stewardship of Creation

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 (Sunday, April 7)
We conclude our “Temple Talks” on Holistic Stewardship this morning.
Again, Holistic Stewardship is the management of our financial resources, time, energy, and talents for the sake of all people, the creation, and God’s name.

We conclude with the first gift humankind was given and called to steward: the Creation.

Recently, I was speaking with a young niece who told me that they had learned about the planets at school. I asked her, “what planet is your favorite”.

She thought a moment before answering “earth”.

The reality is that our galaxy, our solar system, and our planet are quite spectacular. These are amazing gifts. The earth with its plants, animals, and resource are the responsibility of humankind to care for, to protect, to love, and to serve. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2019 in Sermons

 

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Holistic Stewardship

The word ‘stewardship’ has inherited the baggage of ‘financial campaign’ and has become a dreaded and dirty word amongst communities of faith.

Stewardship seems to invoke the image of church leadership shaking its members for additional funds until they are financial exhausted. This image is disconcerting for those in the pews, church leadership, and the pastor alike.

But, ‘stewardship’ is broader. It encompasses the whole of our lives.

  •  Stewardship is the task of managing and caring for ‘something’.
  •  Stewards are people tasked to manage and care for ‘something’, including:
    finances and property, but also supplies, order at social events, and people themselves.

We, as Christians, are taught that God created all matter and appointed humankind as its stewards. But, what does this mean?

We are called to manage our finances, time, and talents well while striving towards God’s Will by

  • proclaiming Christ in word and deeds;
  • seeking justice;
  • acting with compassion and mercy; and
  • loving and serving all people.

Stewards of Financial Means
Our household and congregational budgets are to be well managed reflecting that baptismal calling.

Scripture and tradition teaches the offering of a tithe (or 1/10th) of all material possessions to be given for the glory of God and to the service of God, which provided for the Levities (priests), the Temple, and God’s mission to care for the poor, the orphan, and the widow.

Stewards of Time, Energy, and Talents
Similar to our finances, we must budget our time, energy, and talents to reflect that baptismal calling.

We cannot permit ourselves to either be self-indulgent hoarding our time, energy, and talents for selfish purposes or becoming emotionally, mentally, physically, or spiritually exhausted.

Stewards of Humanity
The management of our finances, time, energy, and talents are for the stewardship and care of humanity ensuring that none are in any need (including clothes, food, and shelter) and are able to thrive. It includes family, loved ones, friends, neighbors, and strangers near and far.

Stewards of Creation
The management of our finances, time, energy, and talents are also for the stewardship and care of creation as our home. We should tend to, protect, and clean it in order that it may thrive.

Conclusion
I invite you to ponder this holistic stewardship of your finances, time, energy, and talents for the sake of humankind and the creation as a spiritual practice to embrace moving forward.

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2019 in Newsletter Articles

 

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Stewardship of Humanity

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 (Sunday, March 31):
We have been discussing Holistic Stewardship which is the management of our financial means, time, energy, and talents for our stewardship of humankind and creation.

The idea of stewarding people may seem odd, especially if you do not supervise others in your paid or volunteered vocations.

But, we are continually called to care for, love, and serve all people by using our resources, time, energy, and talents to do so in word and deed, big and small. It might be donating food, clothing, or items for those in need. It might be feeding hungry people or seeking shelter for the homeless.

But, do we use our resources, time, energy, and talent to do so?

I was pondering a song, which speaks of helping our fellow humans when we have more time. One concluding line is “Funny how I think this sitting in my Lazy Boy”.

How can we manage our resources, time, energy, and talents for the sake of all people?

Mid-Week Service (Wednesday, April 3):
Holistic stewardship, again, is not limited to managing our financial means, time, energy, and talents for our own sake but for the sake of all humankind and creation.

The Torah is often translated as ‘law’, although more accurately ‘teaching’.
It is the first 5 books in the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament, which are:
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

As the years, decades, and centuries have continued to march forth, religious leadership had and continue to build a defensive ‘fence’ around the Torah to protect it from becoming profane, ordinary, or vandalized by our transgressions (or sins).

In essence, they did not want God’s precious teachings to be vulnerable to human error, misuse, and abuse. Additionally, the defense would permit a buffer zone between human imperfection and the teaching and enable those who honored the fence to be “blameless” before God and neighbor.

It sounds reasonable, secure, and perhaps wise.
But, such defensive measures only separate us from the Torah, God, and neighbor a like.

We all build defenses to protect our most vulnerable self, but we all know a person or several who seem to effortlessly tear down those defenses.

For example, I have an old flame with that innate ability while I am attempting to further fortify my defenses. As I shared this with another friend, she asked if it would be such a ‘bad’ thing for those defenses to come tumbling down. My reply was yes and no.

Yes. Who wants to be vulnerable? Who wants to be exposed for potential heartbreak?
No. The defenses only serve the purpose to separate and divide.

Similarly, the defense of the Torah protects and separates.

Jesus and his rebel friends were often accused of ‘breaking the law’, but the truth is that they were intentionally demolishing the defensive system that separated all people, the “blameless” and the sinner, from the Torah, from God, and from one another as neighbors.

It was for the sake of humankind, but particularly those Jesus refers to as the ‘least of these’ in our Matthew text. Jesus is warning us that we are expected to see, to bear witness to, to love, and to serve ALL people because Christ is within ALL people despite: their need for food, clothing, shelter, and companionship, but also their race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, gender identity, sexuality, politics, socio-economic status, religion, creed, their past, or etc.

This teaching was and remains quite offensive to many persons, but especially those who understand themselves as the “keepers of the law” or the “blameless” who accept the demonization of the ‘least of these’ and the lie these can ‘contaminate’ them.
Another example of this teaching is the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

The ‘law-abiding’ religious were fearful that such association would jeopardize their relationship with the other ‘law-abiding religious’ and God.
BUT at the moment of Jesus’ death upon the cross, the curtain in the Temple which separated the Holy of Holies (where God resided) and the people (or world) was torn in two. Thus, the defensive barrier between God and people was no more.

Our Romans text, however, reminds us of one defense system that continues to exist within and around the Torah… Love.

“Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law”.

So, let us be honest. It can be a challenge to use our finances, time, energy, and talents to tear down the defensive walls. And in the words of Garth Brooks (Thicker than Blood):

Why can’t we see the walls we can’t see through?

May our eyes be open to the walls we cannot see and cannot see through.
May we tear down said walls.
May we see Christ in ALL people.
May we reach out in love to ALL people, especially the “least of those”.
May we serve ALL people, again especially the “least of those”.
May we reflect Christ and God’s love to ALL through word and deed, big and small.
Amen.

Scriptures were Matthew 25: 34-40 and Romans 13: 7-10.
 
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Posted by on April 4, 2019 in Sermon Summaries

 

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Time, Energy, & Talent Stewardship

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 (3-24):
Holistic Stewardship, again, is the management of our whole lives and being:
financial means, time, energy, and talents in order to care for, love, and serve all people, all creation, and God.

On Saint Patrick’s Day, I shared that we are called to give financially as our hearts are so called to do without threat, compulsion, or dreaded obligation; thus, we are called to be ‘cheerful givers’. But, we also are not called to be leprechauns, who are obsessed with collecting and hoarding their gold.

Similarly, we are called to give of our time, our energy, and our talents as we are able and our hearts are called to do so for the sake of God’s work, will, and realm.

We are called to give freely of ourselves Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2019 in Sermons

 

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Financial Stewardship

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.

Wait, what?

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.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2019 in Sermons

 

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