“Stewardship” can make a pastor sweat! Not just because there is often not enough money around churches. I am more comfortable than many ministers when it comes to talking about money… because, I figure, God cares about our whole lives, so we ought not ignore one, significant aspect of them (or any others).
And something surprising happens when we bring our wealth, possessions and economic power into the equation of our faith, into our relationship with God (no matter how much we might like to leave them out).
As well, I have increasing confidence in our accomplishments at Old First. Extending the invitation and welcome of God’s love further and gathering more people to worship and serve– that’s incredibly important work. Not just important to those for whom we are a current church home. Not just important for those yet to come. Not just important for the future of this institution.
No, what we’re accomplishing at Old First has a much broader impact for the wider church and is making a real difference in the world. So I’m not in the least bit shy about inviting you to contribute your resources, asking for your strong financial support alongside of your offerings of time and talent.
But for many in the church the word ‘stewardship’ is an euphemism meaning “Look out! The church wants money.” Is that all it means? In the biblical picture of stewardship, the focus is more often not the receivables, but generosity. We are to give not because the church needs money, but because we need to give.
Beloved, God wants us to give, but not because we read in some holy rule book that we have to. And not because we feel pressured by other church people to do it. Or not because we’re trying to buy ourselves out of something we feel bad about.
Instead, God wants us to give because we want to help God with what God is trying to get done in the world. …Want to help because we are thankful for how much God has already gotten done for us.
I read once, it is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving. A real offering is our gift to God in gratitude for all God has already given you. And because we love God.
As I said, in church last Sunday, you are going to be getting two letters on Stewardship. The first, from Larry Waddell and me, will be passed out in person, starting in worship on Sunday. A second letter, from Beth Walker, will come in the mail next week. Together they will give you the information you need to prayerfully consider the OPPORTUNITIES for stewardship offered by gathering in of 2011 pledges and our drive to end 2010 in the black.
Beloved, believe me, this is good news. We have accomplished so much, but not one wit of it without God’s help. Now we are being given the chance to show God our love and gratitude.