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For example, as I write, the Green Movement has captured the attention of many Christians and congregations. Human communities are seeking more mutual partnership with the natural world in all its dimensions—birds and bees, rocks and trees, skies and seas. How the human family relates to the natural world can be interpreted as part of stewardship, generosity, or faith and giving.
Money, of course, is a significant aspect of life in the early twenty-first century. It has inter-related symbolic and material power. What we do with our money represents our values. How we spend our money indicates what is really important to us. In the pre-historic era of financial life, I used to look at the stubs in our checkbook to see where we were really spending our money; I could then ponder what these expenditures said about the coherence between what we said we valued and how we actually used our money.
Similarly today, I write few checks, but I look at the items on our credit card bill and on our debit card records. What we do with our money can have material outcomes. Our giving can make certain things possible or deny their possibility. For example, the congregation to which I belong sends backpacks of food for the weekend home with grade school students who might not otherwise have sufficient and nutritious food over the weekend. It takes money to buy the food that goes into the backpacks.
The food makes a material difference to the families to whom it goes. My spouse and I live in Indianapolis, Indiana. In the late summer, the sweet corn comes in. I do not mean to cast aspersion on any other state, but Nebraska is the only state that grows better sweet corn than Indiana. Round, full kernels—moist, tender, and sweet, truly sweet. I wanted to contribute to the local, local economy.
The sweet corn is in bags of a dozen. When we got home, I took the ears out of the bag to put them in the fresh vegetable basket on the kitchen counter. Mindful that vendors all over the country are reducing the sizes of their products, I counted the ears. We give extra ears to everybody. We have never received fewer than two extra ears, and we have received as many as six. What can I do. I know how I felt when I discovered those extra ears. I would like for other people to feel similarly in other arenas of life.
If enough people catch that spirit, we will have a different world, a world more like the one the Great Parent seeks for us. We suggest three approaches to preaching on faith and giving in theologically reflective ways from passages from the Gospel of Luke and Book of Acts in the Revised Common Lectionary. In a congregation that does not use the lectionary, worship planners could choose these passages as the basis for preaching in the patterns below. The biblical texts for this resource all come from the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts as selected for the Revised Common Lectionary.
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While nearly all biblical texts have implications for the use of material resources, this concern permeates the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. But, such a narrow consideration also allows for depth of encounter, especially as a community lives with Luke over Year C. Many congregations have long had a single campaign each year intended to underwrite the budget.
However focusing on the budget for a single campaign once a year sometimes has unintended consequences. People can come away from such a campaign with a compartmentalized understanding. Congregations need to understand that stewardship, generosity, and faith and giving are woven totally into the total fabric of Christian life and witness. As a way of embodying this integration, a preacher might explicitly devote a sermon a month to these themes. Of course, a preacher could develop such a focus once a month for any number of months. We should not sign a pledge card and act as if we are done thinking and acting on these matters until the next campaign.
A congregation that wants a Commitment Sunday might designate one of the Sundays late in Ordinary Time for this purpose. The preacher wants the congregation to develop a theological lens through which it is able to interpret and identify the appropriate ways to engage in stewardship, to be generous, and to give in response to faith. When I put on my glasses in the morning, I see the world differently than when I leave them under the bed.
Preaching every month on the use of material resources helps a congregation see the world from the perspective of how our use material resources can make a difference,. Towards this end, the Center for Faith and Giving identifies six texts as foci for preaching about once a month during the Sundays after Easter and during Ordinary Time. The selections begin in April and continue through November:.
Some congregations prefer a concentrated emphasis. Towards this end, we offer three sermons in three weeks for the spring, and three sermons in three weeks for the fall. In each case, the final Sunday could be a Commitment Sunday. The immersive learning experience is a model here. When learning a particular subject matter students sometimes immerse themselves in a setting in which they focus only on that subject matter.
For example, a college student learning Spanish might live for a semester with a family in South America. Similarly, the preacher might help the congregation immerse in a single subject matter for three weeks. As a student comes away from an immersion with a heightened consciousness of the subject matter and how to put it into practice, so the congregation comes away from the immersion into the world of stewardship, generosity or faith and giving. Of course, a congregation could combine six-month emphasis with a three week campaign by focusing on stewardship once a month on biblical materials during the spring and summer, and then sponsoring an intense campaign in late spring or late fall.
The Stewardship Companion: Lectionary Resources for Preaching by David N. Mosser
In the materials that accompany each Sunday, exegetical comments and preaching possibilities are combined in one flowing discussion. We employ all three expressions and others in these materials, but it is worth noting that each has strengths and weaknesses. The steward in antiquity was the manager of the affairs of a household that belonged to an owner. The steward managed the other servants and animals , and was responsible to the owner.
By way of contemporary example, a steward on an ocean liner is responsible for managing certain things on the ship for the comfort of passengers and the profits of owners. It is what we do with our whole lives. However, a good many Christians have become uneasy with the language of stewardship because it is managerial in tone. It is individualistic in character the steward typically acted alone ; and it suggests a hierarchy of relationships in the human community.
Stewards typically think of themselves as managing limited resources. The notion of accountability easily lets the element of fear shape too much perception of stewardship. In large measure, this resource continues to use the language of stewardship, but we also use the language of generosity and faith and giving per the comments that follow. One of my colleagues, Carol Johnston, has studied generosity from various standpoints, including interviewing people who give generously in give congregations.
She sums up:. When you experience and receive the unconditional love of God through compelling preaching of that love and the practice of authentic Christian hospitality, you are both healed and led beyond yourself. Correspondence with author. When we have the self-image of being generous, we see ourselves less as managers and more as full-bodied participants in a community of caring, caring which often has joy at its heart. Even if particular parts of the human population or particular parts of the natural world suffer from a shortage of resources e.
The issue is not over-all shortage, but distribution—getting pieces of material abundance to all who need them. When we act generously with a spirit of joy and openness towards the other, a sense of community often results. Moreover generosity often begets generosity. I was recently at a meeting to plan for raising funds for a campaign. It was really an organizational meeting.
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The generosity of the first donor inspired increased generosity in others. Generosity often breeds generosity and sense of mutual participation. I like the feeling I see in those with whom I am generous, and I like the feeling that I get as a result of being generous. Often a sense of community develops among those in whom generosity occurs. The act of giving and receiving sparks a bond. Of course, thinking in terms of generosity can quietly play into a charity mindset.
The charity way of thinking presupposes, even if unintentionally, a hierarchical perception of relationship: the giver has an upper hand in making the hand-out. I, who have abundance, give out of my treasure to those who have less. In the broad sense, faith is trust in the presence and purposes of God.
The person who has faith has confidence that there is a living presence we call God who loves each and all animals and elements of nature included ; and seeks for all to live in relationships of love. People who seek to be faithful seek for this trust to permeate their lives and to embody loving values and practices. In this sense, faith includes working on behalf of justice, which is the social form of love.
Giving is a way of expressing faith in God. A giver counts on God. Our life together is that important to me. In the strange logic of these things, giving can help increase faith. When we give, even when we have questions about whether we have the resources to do so, we often discover blessing and support that helps us believe that God really is present and providential. When we take a risk in giving, we sometimes become more aware of the divine presence supporting and extending us. I oversimplify the theological issues with that I am about to say in order to make a point.
But we made the decision to do so. We set aside our tithe first, and we have nearly always had enough money for all our other expenses. But the practice of tithing reinforced their confidence in God. Recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of all three ways of speaking, we use all three expressions in these materials—stewardship, generosity, and faith and giving.
Since we focus on biblical readings from the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, we will relate these notions to particular themes in that Gospel. However, since the different expressions have somewhat different associations, preachers and worship planners may want to focus on one language family for Year C—stewardship, or generosity, or faith and giving—as the leading way in which speak about these matters in the congregations.
David N. The Center for Faith and Giving provides another set of materials for short-term campaigns, such as the program entitled From Bread and Wine to Faith and Giving. This program focuses on stewardship implications that follow from the Sacred Meal. Below is a brief look at the resources that surround a single text — in this case, Acts This is a sample of the over 95 pages of exegetical and homiletical commentary….
The stories of Aeneas and Dorcas Tabitha may seem like odd passages with which to begin a season of thinking about generosity. But several themes characteristic of the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts appear in this passage, all of which with implications for the faithful use of material resources. In the background of this study is the idea that the ministry of Jesus is the model for the ministries of the apostles and the church. The apostles and the church do everything that Jesus does, including serve as agencies through whom God heals the sick and raises the dead.
For this discussion, we distinguish between the resuscitation of a corpse and a resurrection. A resuscitation of a corpse occurs in the midst of the broken old age, with the person returning to life in the same body in which she or he died. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title.
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Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Sort order. Jun 05, Jerry rated it really liked it Shelves: stewardship. The focus of this stewardship commentary, based on the Revised Commmon Lectionary A, B, C , is for any preaching occasion called for by the church's liturgical calendar. Below are brief examples of a few sentences of a stewardshp reflection on a lectionary text. Shopping Cart 0. Advanced Search Bible Studies. New Testament. Old Testament. Study Resources. Bible Study Series. For Today Series. Interpretation Bible Studies.
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