“What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way God works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how God works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” –A portion of Luke 12:29-31 from The Message by Eugene Peterson
I can’t believe I’ve already been at Northminster for a year. As I look back, I never could have predicted it. While some things went somewhat as I thought they would, I’ve also been stretched and used in ways I never could have predicted and enjoyed things I never saw coming. But I continue to learn that following a call is like that; at once familiar and unpredictable…always changing. Presbyterians have always talked about the church being “reformed and always reforming”; morphing and looking for ways to grow and responds to God in new ways…sometimes by choice, sometimes out of the necessity of time passing. The beauty of the Gospel is that in an ever-changing world, God is always calling us and showing us new ways to experience and share the love and light of Christ.
This October at Northminster we’re going to talk about stewardship. Congratulations on continuing to read. While we will talk some about finances, I’m hoping that we can broaden our focus a bit when it comes to that subject. You’ll notice that there isn’t a single mention of money in the passage above. It’s a passage that comes at the end of a “sermon” where Jesus is teaching about relying on God. He talks about God providing for the ravens and the lilies…and then encourages us to see how God provides for us as well. The catch is focusing on how God gives, works, and enables us to live (the call) instead of being “simply preoccupied with getting. Each of us has been given all that we have for a reason, and we have been taken care of by God for a purpose. All that remains is to discern what that purpose, what that call, truly is.
And so we’re not going to talk just about money this October…we’re going to talk about time and talents. We’re going to talk about finding those places (both inside and outside of the church walls) that point to grace, hope, and generosity. Presbyterian Women, youth volunteering, helping as an usher or liturgist, Northland Assistance, Session, Deacons…yes…but also reaching out to neighbors in prayer, spending intentional time with family, volunteering, intentionally reaching out to the marginalized, and so many other ways that we can (and I know we are) working to show the love and passion of Christ in the world. I understand that we don’t all have the ability to give financially…but we all have the gift of our passions and talents. God wants to use them in life-changing ways…ways that change the community and change us.
And that’s my hope…money or no money: that we change things through our stewardship and reframe our passions and joys from a “getting” mindset to a “serving” mindset towards God and one another. I love Peterson’s language in the paraphrase above of “steeping ourselves”…immersing ourselves to the point where we sink into the reality of God. That’s what stewardship is about. We remember what God has done, react to that provision, and then rejoice that God can, has, and will transform us and the world around us.
That, friends, is being the Church.