June 2019 Edit: I’m currently working on my post for this week when I realized I had begun this series and never had a part 2. I looked at the date and realized this was posted just a few days before my father’s passing. I do hope to return to this series again soon.
This week begins our pledge month at Bethany with our theme: “Embracing Stewardship”. It’s a common phrase in the church world, but we hope to give it new life. Over the next few weeks our church will be exploring the ways God calls us to steward creation. And that creation includes every part of our lives, our community, and our world.
How can we better embrace that calling?
Embracing the Awkward
I, like many people, am not always comfortable talking about “stewardship”. Mainly because we tend to get money/budget focused. And honestly that’s fair, a big part of any stewardship or pledge drive is raising funds for ministry or looking towards the church’s future budget.
Unfortunately in our world today, it’s awkward to talk about money. I know for myself, it’s rare to hear conversations about money among my friends and family. There’s a feeling of discomfort sharing spending or even giving habits. We don’t like to talk about the debts we might carry or the purchases we might make.
I remember once I mentioned while my husband was student teaching we hired a cleaning service to help us once a month. I felt immediate judgement about my willingness to spend anything on a chore we could easily do. Unfortunately I remember trying to justify myself, and honestly it didn’t feel great. We’re sort of trained in our lives not to talk about things that could be seen as luxury. And we’re trained not to talk about our needs too. Talking about student loan debt for many pastors is an impossible and awkward task, but as our synod’s new capital campaign points out, it’s a needed conversation.
Sharing our lives
The truth is, money is part of our lives. Each and every one of us grapple with finances on a daily basis, and so of course, money too is part of our calling as stewards. Because God shares all of creation with us, God should be part of our financial conversations too.
Jesus talks about money A LOT. From Preaching Today:
Jesus talked much about money. Sixteen of the thirty-eight parables were concerned with how to handle money and possessions. In the Gospels, an amazing one out of ten verses (288 in all) deal directly with the subject of money. The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2,000 verses on money and possessions.
That’s a LOT. So how can we share this part of our lives better? I think it begins with wondering at why we so often try to separate the finance piece from our spiritual lives. Often stewardship or pledge campaigns become focused on paying the bills and keeping the doors open. But what if we talked about money in a spiritual way?
How might our mindsets on the dollar bill change when we remember that God is part of that too? That although we might work and earn, all gifts are from God (James 1:17). Could God’s light in our lives help us to find praise and thanks-giving around our finances? Could God help us find hope when our finances cause lament and heartache?
Throughout these few weeks, as we embrace stewardship, our hope is to embrace God and God’s calling for us in every part of our lives. I hope you will join us in prayer, in contemplation, and in thanks-giving for God’s gifts for you and for everyone. It might be awkward. It might be uncomfortable. And it might be a new way for us to look at a piece of our lives that we often miss when thinking about our faith.
God knows what’s in store for us!
Stay tuned next week for Embracing Stewardship Part 2 – Creation