Stewardship Season kickoff

This past week I bought a pumpkin while making a run to the grocery store—for me, that’s a sure sign that autumn is here. So, as the daylight grows shorter, the temperature begins to drop, and the Halloween decorations and candy begin to appear, it’s also a signal for our church calendar: Stewardship season is upon us!

For some, stewardship is as frightening and unwelcome as the ghosts and goblins of Halloween. For others, though, stewardship is more closely linked to thanksgiving, because in our giving we show our gratitude to God for the many blessings of life.

Money, as we all know, is a sensitive issue in our culture (and maybe even more so in the church). One author writes: “Having lots of money can be like a drug. It can make you feel powerful and giddy. It can convince you that everything is going to be okay.” Our culture invites us to think that if we keep accumulating more and more, we will someday have enough to be secure.

Of course, that day never comes—“enough” is never fully attained. Reflecting on the past few years of global financial uncertainty and fluctuations, we’re even more aware of the folly of putting our ultimate trust in anything but God. And yet, the use of our financial resources is central to our commitment to Jesus Christ and a yardstick to measure our understanding of grace.

South Church’s 2016 Stewardship theme is “Go and See”, which is a quote from Mark 6:38. It calls us to reflect on what is “enough” and where to put our focus and attention in life. In this gospel story, the disciples are faced with the seemingly impossible task of feeding a crowd of 5,000 with almost no resources. Jesus takes the opportunity to teach that even when our resources seem limited, they can be multiplied when used faithfully in God’s service.

This year’s stewardship emphasis is on our assets here at SPC—the blessings that God has granted all of us. It’s an invitation to challenge the temptation of an inward-looking “what do I/we need” to an outward-directed “look what our church has to offer the world.” Jesus knew that if his disciples would just go out into the crowd and look (and see with the eyes of faith), they would find an abundance of resources.

The author Parker Palmer writes, “Too often the church lives on a basis of scarcity and ends up hoarding what little it has gathered for its own use. Scarcity, however, too often leads to fear and mistrust. Healthy growth must be based on abundance and the willingness to share all the resources available to the body of Christ.”

Another way of looking at this is by asking ourselves: “Do I live out of scarcity (focusing on what I don’t have) or do I live out of abundance (celebrating and giving thanks for God’s wonderful gifts)?

In the next few weeks, you will be receiving a pledge commitment card as we prepare to celebrate Pledge Dedication on Sunday, November 1. Please prayerfully consider you gift as we celebrate our call to “Go and See” the abundance that God is sowing in our world.

 

Peace and grace,

Mark