During the next few weeks, we will be hearing a lot about faithful stewardship in preparation for Consecration Sunday, October 4. We're asking everyone to save the date and plan to worship together that morning either in the parking lot or online. While we are passing through this pandemic, we need all the hope, gratitude, and generosity we can summon. That's why we've chosen as our theme the words of the Prophet Jeremiah: "For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope" (Jeremiah 29:11).
Members of the parish will be sharing wonderful testimonials about stewardship and their faith journeys. I hope you will take the time to read them and listen to them. I, too, have a story to share. It is basically the same every year. I shared it with you when I arrived last year and I'm sharing it again for emphasis, for it represents the theological foundation that guides how I follow the spiritual practice of stewardship.
Creation Has Been Given Into Our Care.
In the very first chapter of the very first book of the Bible, we read that God created human beings in God’s own image. God blessed our species, entrusted the rest of creation into our hands, and gave us all the gifts we will need to fulfill our unique purpose.
This ancient passage is the basis for our Christian theology of stewardship.
- To be created in the “image” of God means to be a living witness to the Creator and to be an official representative of the Creator on planet earth.
- To “subdue” the earth means to bring things under control and to manage them according to God’s purposes.
- To have “dominion” means that human beings have been appointed as the rulers and protectors of all living things, serving under the ultimate sovereignty of God, their Creator.
So, human beings have been entrusted with the vocation of stewardship, the call and commission to represent our Creator in caring for everything in the amazing universe that has been given to us to sustain all life.
God doesn’t expect such things from other creatures nor has God equipped other creatures for such a role. Birds, for example, build essentially the same kind of nest every year. A robin builds a robin’s nest. A cardinal builds a cardinal’s nest. A hummingbird builds a hummingbird’s nest. From one generation to another, each kind of bird builds the kind of nest into which it came into this world.
Humans, on the other hand, have the capacity to build an infinite variety of buildings for an infinite variety of purposes. We build houses, schools, hospitals, office buildings, convention centers, and churches. Every one of them can be different from the others and from those that we built a generation or a year ago.
The vocation of stewardship is given uniquely to human beings. Therefore, it is one of the chief attributes that makes us human.
Everything we have, whether spent, saved, or given away, is a sacred trust from God. We are stewards of all of it.
Nothing pleases God more than for us to consciously live our lives as God envisioned. To understand ourselves as stewards of God’s bounty is the perfect way to do that. When we deliberately surrender to God a portion of our time, talent, gifts, and service, as a spiritual practice, we consecrate all the rest of our resources and declare our intention, with God’s help, to manage the rest in ways that please God. In that way, we become fully alive children of God.
What a remarkable way to honor and glorify God.
The Very Rev'd Ron Pogue
St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church