The Biblical picture of stewardship focuses not on receivables, but generosity. Sharing what we have been given. Time, talent and treasure. Not because the church needs money, but because humans need to give.
Stewardship is acknowledging and caring for what has been entrusted to us: our world cannot be fully alive, we cannot be fully ourselves until we attain thanksgiving and generosity. God wants you to give, but not because you read in some holy rule book that you owe 10%. And not because you feel pressured by other church people to do so. Or not because you’re trying to “buy” yourself out of something you feel bad about.
Instead, giving is integral to the process of spiritual growth:
- becoming aware of all that God has already given you, you experience thankfulness.
- deep thanksgiving translates into a desire to be generous: wanting to help God with what God is trying to get done in the world.
It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving. The offering acceptable to God is our gratitude shown in our sharing with others. Because we love God. Because God loved us first.
Aaron Copeland’s opera, ‘The Tender Land’ ties this all together:
The promise of living with hope and thanksgiving
Is born of our loving our friends and our labor.
The promise of growing with faith and with knowing
Is born of our sharing our love with our neighbor.
The promise of living, the promise of growing
Is born of our singing in joy and thanksgiving.
HOW CAN I GROW IN MY GENEROSITY?
Old First, as a faith community, encourages each of us to share generously, as she or he is able, to support of the ministries of this church. The church’s work is totally dependent on its members’ willingness to contribute their time and talent. But it also costs money to run things. Making a confidential, stewardship pledge– what you promise God you will contribute to support this church this year– helps the church foresee the financial resources it will have to work with. It also helps you, providing a personal, spiritual discipline around money.
Old First invites us to be generous beyond church too. The Stewardship Ministry Team is developing a set of additional benevolences—other ministries you can support—one for each month of the year. You may make a gift to each, contribute to the ones you choose are most important to you, or use those benevolences to prompt you to contribute to other charitable or justice causes.
Stewardship is a practice, involving all of your life, your money too. It’s a way living Christian lives that express our values and commitments. Stewardship, when we take it seriously, affects all of our decisions, especially those about the natural and human resources entrusted to our care. Stewardship is being faithful to Jesus Christ and growing to appreciate your whole life as a gift.
Stewardship also provides an abiding experience of shalom: living in harmony with others and the world. It is about our relationships, grace, justice, freedom, peace, and mutuality as well as our material possessions. As faithful stewards, we are joined by our common gift of life in a world we share, and the reality of finite resources. We recognize that each of us is a mixture of neediness and fullness. Together, we share a responsibility to care for each other as we honor the holy in creation and ourselves.