Friday, November 7, 2008

stewardship

So it's stewardship Sunday at your church and that means that your pastor is preaching about--the church budget! Yes, we're to be stewards of our money, but how many other things can you think of that we're stewards of, and what does that mean?
  • our bodies--we're to keep them healthy and usuable to the best of our ability, using them for the purpose for which they were created--for some clues, look to our five senses
  • sight--our God is a God who loves beauty, creating it extravagantly. Of color, light and darkness. We honor him when we take the time to notice it
  • hearing--music, harmony, silence. Big sounds and little.
  • taste--good food honors God. when we notice and enjoy what we feed ourselves, it is a good thing. it's no accident that one of the sacraments is a meal.
  • touch--texture. Heat and cold. a hug. sex.
  • smell--flowers, a scented candle, a good dinner.
  • our time--stewardship of our time seems to me increasingly to mean that we not waste it--not that that means, as so many would take it that we use our time only for "useful" things, or for work . . . but that that we actively use our time, that we're intentional about our play and relationships as well as our work . . . that we not let our time simply escape from us without enjoying and living it and that we not neglect or burn the now for the future. (Inevitably that is going to mean some active, intentional, prayerful prioritization)
  • our minds
  • our families--Anne Lamott says of her son that he "is not mine, or at any rate, that he is not my chattel--that he is on loan, he belongs to God, but for whatever reason, he has been entrusted to my care--entrusted, rather, to my clutches." And as husbands and wives we are to encourage, grow, chivy and take care of each other in any number of ways.
  • our churches--which is to say, or ought to be, our extended families. The church, is after all, the people not the building
  • and, oh yeah, our posessions--of which money is just one aspect. because after all, once we use money to make an initial purchase--a house, a car, land, food--we still have the responsibility and privilige of taking care of it . . . of using it.

this does not pretend to be anything like a comprehensive list . . . feel free to point out anywhere I've left gaping holes. The trick, of course, is to keep all of these in balance . . . it's rather easy to be a good steward of any one thing--our friends at the expense of our finances, our finances at the expense of our actually living in and interacting with the world, our church at the expense of our families our children at the expense of our spouse, or any of it at the expense of our own health. It's easy to toss one ball up and down in the air. But that's not juggling. But true juggling is a thing of beauty. Lord, I thank you for all the gifts and responsibilities and priviliges that you have given me. Let me not waste any of them, but use them all to your glory.

5 comments:

Erin said...

I just have to say we were talking today on another blog about how us non-church people have trouble being OK with church people. I know I've struggled with it...I have been angry and sometimes vicious.

But you and Rob are so level headed about it all and I love that. I hope you hear my heart in that...that you two have played a role in my healing from my church-bashing season. There aren't many church people I know who would have written this post. In my experience it has always come down to $'s and to heck with the rest. I have had to relearn all the other kinds of stewardship.

Thanks for this.

Rob said...

Unfortunately, I can't juggle worth a darn . . .

Erin, thanks very much for the compliment--that means a lot.

And you're right, the church becomes a pretty sad place when it's all about money. There's a very wealthy friend of a friend ("get invited to the Inaugural because you gave that much" kind of wealthy) who's a lifelong, devout Christian who's basically been hounded out of the church by people (including pastors, alas) wanting more money out of him. That isn't the gospel.

Erin said...

You're very welcome Rob.

I think the money thing comes from churches feeling like they have to compete with the "real" world...i.e. have more fabulous services and better technology, so people will come there rather than go to secular events. It is sad.

Sara said...

thank you Erin for your kind comments . . . I don't feel like I deserve much credit, per se, here. One of my prayers, a lot, has been that God would teach me/us to be good stewards of the things that he's given us. I prayed that prayer thinking of money--worrying about it, worrying about my own capability of handling it, wanting to not screw up. Now I feel like God is answering my prayer . . . not by giving me the reassurance that I can do a good enough job, but by broadening my perspective . . .

How very God. I thought I was asking for something relatively simple. :)

Rob said...

Erin--very true. (Alas.)