How do I define stewardship and where does the requirement to be a good steward come from?
Henri Nouwen has defined stewardship as "the prudent management of our resources". This is a much bigger idea than planning how much money that I am going to donate to church and other causes this year. For me, stewardship is about paying attention to the details of my daily life and that includes making wise choices about the use of time and money. It is also includes how I respond to God in my everyday life.
I was struck by Bishop Spong's idea that God is the ultimate source of life and that we worship God by living fully and sharing deeply. When I am living fully and sharing deeply I am worshipping God and being a good steward. In spite of falling short often both in living fully and sharing deeply, I have been blessed and I am profoundly grateful to God for those blessings. I have a family who loves and supports me. I have benefitted from an education that opened doors to satisfying employment. I have friends who cheered me on in my successes and commiserated in my failures. I have had good health that allows me to actively enjoy the spectacularly beautiful natural environment.
The requirement to be a good steward comes from Scripture that has been reinforced throughout my life, from gratitude for what I have received and from a desire to give back to my various communities.
What role does stewardship play in my life?
I admit that I had not thought a lot about stewardship as a spiritual practice until Wayne handed me the book, "More Blessed to Give" by John H. MacNaughton. When I look back on the way I had to figure out how to live my life after divorce, I learned very quickly that the prudent use of resources was critical to survival. I had to be intentional about the use of time and money in particular.
Life is full of choices, some of the consequences are better than others. Some choices in the past were made out of fear that I would not have enough. Somehow I learned about abundance and to incorporate the truth that there is enough and when we give, we will receive a good measure in return.
I am learning about stewardship as a spiritual practice from Anna, M.J., Wayne, the Townends, Gord, and from readings that I have done. We have our own understanding and experience of what that means for us and we share common beliefs and practices. Sharing deeply as part of my daily practice does matter to me as an expression of my place in the family of God and it does matter to those who benefit from whatever I have to offer.
What role does St. Laurence play? How important is the church?
St. Laurence has been a great gift to me. I needed a community that accepted me and challenged me and I have found it here. I have been enriched by the ministry and the leadership in this place. I love the music, the participatory liturgy, sharing the Eucharist in a circle filled with light. I love the discussions at Conversations, and Living the Questions sessions. I appreciate the food and the fellowship of my foyer group.
The mystery of God's love is working here and calling us to a fuller humanity. The recent acceptance of the same sex blessing proposal by church members is an example that God is also the ultimate source of love. We love others because God first loved us. Calgary is a better place because the people of St. Laurence are good stewards.
Why should anyone give money to the church?
I give to the church out of a sense of gratitude to God and the community. I give money to the church because that is an expectation that began before the time of Abraham and has been passed through generations. As part of a community I need to do my part to help the church fulfil its mandate in the world.
MacNaughton, J. H., 1983. More Blessed To Give: Straight Talk on Stewardship. New York, N.Y: Church Publishing House.
Spong, J. S., 2002. A New Christianity For a New World. New York : Harper Collins.