Monday’s After Thoughts: 18 June 2018

Greetings to all and happy Monday!
I have been thinking about the Parish Forum that we had on the 10th of this month and, in particular, the conversation about one of our goals: pledging. The first thing that I want to do is change our wording from pledging to stewardship. Pledging can have different connotations to different people that do not belong as a part of this conversation, but stewardship is the goal that the Vestry has planned for this conversation. I have been asked to write a little about a healthy biblical theology of stewardship. This is a part of the Vestry goals and so I will start at the beginning.
If we read from the book of beginnings (Genesis), it is clear that there is a theology of stewardship. As the Scriptures open up on the story of our world as told in Genesis, some things are established.
First, that God is the Creator and Power behind everything we experience in this world. Night, day, water, trees, plants, animals, warmth, wind.
If, like me and many others, you have heard it taught that the Creation story found in the beginning of Genesis is about how things came to be, you are not alone. I have sat through many discussions about the order in which things were created, which was first, second and so on. I have heard many try to explain the scientific difficulties found in the order and manner of the creation story so as to defend the book as true to a secular world. I have heard debates on the meaning of the word yom in Hebrew, which can be translated as day, week, month, a season of time, or an epoch of time.
It is all missing the point.
The goal of Genesis is not about the how, but about the Who.
Who was from the beginning and moves, in Trinity, in the creation of all that sustains us.
The air we breathe, the heat from the sun, the plants that grow and the ability to live in this world.
As I stated earlier, God is the Power and Creator behind everything. He has dominion and authority over all that happens in our world. You might say it like this: God is the provider of all that we have and, because of this, He is responsible for its care. The earth, sky, water, life.
You see, with power and authority comes responsibility. The story of Genesis is God taking responsibility for His creation to see to it that it is as it should be. This is found in His dealings with Cain, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, and so on.
The second thing that is established in Genesis is God creating us.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth’”
Did you read what I did?
We were created in God’s image and likeness.
We were given dominion to act and subdue.
Which means, we are accountable for that.
This is stewardship.
This is where a biblical understanding of stewardship should start.
Mostly because it is not about money but about responsibility.
You and I are given much.
And to whom much is given, much is expected.
We have, no matter who we are, power and authority over our lives and the things that are a part of our lives.
Our gifts, talents and finances.
Our connections, relationships and privilege.
To use them in the manner in which they have been given by God.
For ourselves and others.
The ourselves part is easier.
The others part, not so much.
For the life of the Christian, it means we should think of all we have, all that we have dominion over, as a way of living out our faith in this world.
We are responsible for ourselves.
We have a charge to help those that are in need (think the story of the Good Samaritan).
We have a responsibility to take care of our relationships.
And if we are a part of a community of followers of Jesus (think Holy Trinity Church), then we have a responsibility to use our dominion as a part of the bigger plan of the mission and vision for Holy Trinity.
That means you and me.
The things we are good at.
The things we are passionate about.
Our time.
Our talents.
Our treasures.
Not some of it.
All of it.
That is what we signed up for as followers of Jesus.
Does that mean we should give all that we have to Holy Trinity Church?
We should make sure that, as we have been given, we give back as a part of our community.
It is our responsibility.
Each of us.
As we have been given.
To support the mission and vision of our little community.