Stewardship is not simply a once-a-year item. This week’s texts provide a perfect opportunity to talk about stewardship without following it up with a pledge card or a capital campaign. Though the impetus for the Corinthian text is a monetary collection, it could easily be shifted to sharing of gifts and offering of grace, stewarding what we have been given in a way that gives glory to God.
Or perhaps the worship team would prefer to focus on Mark and Jesus’ example of patient grace and loving healing as he gathers up those who are calling out for Resurrection and for acceptance. Who is interrupting us with their needs and their cries? Who has been left on the margins because of things beyond control and is reaching for a way into the community? How do we make space? How do we stop our busy, headlong rush to accomplish our tasks (which might be good things in and of themselves) and find time to be touched by another’s need? How do we make space in our hearts for the hurting of this world?
Our resources are not infinite, of course, whether we talk about time or about goods or about money. But we are called to give what we have, to use what we have, to make space to think of others besides ourselves. This worship moment is a call to raise our heads and look around us to see who is next to us and in need of the grace we have received.
Often, people say they want to help but they don’t know how or where. They are suspicious of people on the street who ask for funds or requests for help through mail or email. This would be a good opportunity to remind the gathered congregation of how the church responds to needs. What are the policies of giving to those who come to the door of the church? Where do the funds come from and where do they go? What community efforts does the church support, whether directly by giving goods or indirectly by funding other programs? You might think that everyone knows this stuff. The truth is, they don’t. You may have mentioned it before; there may be signs all around, but tell it again – not as a burden but as an opportunity for people to participate in the grace of giving. Tell stories of those affected by the giving from the church, lives that were changed, hope restored. People are more willing to give and support a ministry if they know that it makes a difference in someone’s life.
It is good to remember, however, that this isn’t just about raising money. This is about realizing how much we have already received in grace from our Lord and the joy we have in living that out. It is about learning how to be present to the world around us as a way of being present to God. This service should be a celebration of all that God has poured into us and how we have been claimed from the margins, so that we can then partner with God’s Spirit in doing the same for others. We can give what we have been given.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.