by: Rev. Alex Molozaiy
Plenty of transitions blow in along with the cool breezes of November: winter clothes come out, the days shorten, and we look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with loved ones as the year speeds to a close. It’s a transitional month for the Church as well. So-called ‘ordinary time’ (the church season after the Day of Pentecost) concludes with ‘Reign of Christ’ Sunday and a new church year begins with Advent.
For many churches, like ours, November is also a month of focusing on stewardship for the upcoming year. Which begs the question: What *is* stewardship, anyway? First and foremost, stewardship is more than a church word for ‘giving’ or ‘offering.’ Stewardship presumes that the earth and everything in it belongs to God and each of us is entrusted with a portion of that wealth for a time. Stewardship, then, refers to how we choose to manage what God has entrusted to us. It’s a concept that goes beyond merely the tangible and concrete. How we steward our time and talents also are of concern to God and the ministries of Christ’s Church.
I recall a time when a member pushed back against this concept of stewardship with me privately. They said, “What if someone doesn’t believe that everything they have belongs to God?” I suggested that they’re going to have some rough times challenging multiple strong biblical references. Also that we never really know the intentions or beliefs of our donors and that it’s okay because the Spirit moves in mysterious ways and surely God can find a way to use whatever gifts are given.
God isn’t dependent on what we choose to give or keep. Being a good steward and continuing to grow is about our journey and our discipleship. I don’t know how God may be calling you to grow in your stewardship, but I’m also convinced that none of us can say with a straight face that we’ve achieved perfect stewardship.
It’s like the Parable of the Talents. Entrusted with huge sums for a long time, two of the recipients risked losing the principal in order to invest and grow the sum to eventually double. The other, who received one talent, simply buried it and kept it safely out of harm’s way. And yet, the rich man who gave him the sum in trust was furious. “You could have at least put it in the bank where it would have gained something,” is essentially his reply.
Take time this November to count your many blessings and see if God is calling you to grow in your stewardship (hint: yup!) and more importantly, in what way specifically. Perhaps it’s your time, skills, or, yes, even your offering that you’ve not reevaluated for some time. What gift are you being coaxed to develop over the course of this next year? How will you know when you’ve reached a goal? What does ‘successful stewardship’ look like for you this year? Risk offering something outside your comfort zone and watch God go to work.