It’s about everything. It’s how you understand yourself and your relationship to everyone and everything – from the trash you recycle or don’t recycle to, well, God. We call it stewardship – the care for all that is from our money, to our stuff, to our bodies and spirits, our relationships with others and our relationship with God.
The longer I live, the more I realize how it all connects together. The way I take care of my time – balance exercise with prayer and work with rest – not only says much about what I value, but it also makes me who I am. I learned long ago that one of the ways I can be a good steward of the work God blesses me with as a priest is to be sure I start each day working on my relationship with God. My morning prayers are not just a nice thing I do because I “should,” they are the ground of my being, my relationship with God and others, my life.
So too, of course, the ways we live with money say so much about our values, our faith, our lives. As one of my theology professors used to put it: “Your check book is a theological document.” How you relate to the abundance God gives you says everything about how you understand who you are in relationship with God.
So stewardship is about so much more than just the pledge card you put in the offering plate and the church budget. How do you understand your financial gifts for the work of the church? And how does that understanding make you a better follower of Jesus? How do you engage your body, soul, and mind into the ministry you are called to perform – not only by financial proxy, but incarnate in your choices and compassion, your hopefulness and engagement?
How much of “your” time do you give to God? How much of your heart and soul and energy? How much are you willing to spend in prayer? How much do you give up so that you can give to God and others? How is your sacrifice like Jesus’? When asked what the most important thing is, Jesus says: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” How does your stewardship of everything reflect that? And how can each of us move closer to Jesus’ ideal this year?
The Very Rev. Gary Barker