Today's article is meant for those who escort the Word into the gathered worshipping communities each week. Between June 28 and October 11 there are six preaching opportunities in the Revised Common Lectionary to address our relationship to money and possessions. I have listed the six texts with a few comments as an encouragement. One might argue that there are more than six texts to explore this relationship during this time period but these are the more obvious. You may consider this as a series.
Please note we are taking a two-week Summer break and will be back with a newsletter on July 14.
Glenn Taibl, Co-Director
Center for Stewardship Leaders
The Revised Common Lectionary provides a number of opportunities to talk about money when you aren't asking for it. Actually a couple of these texts will emerge during many Congregations' Annual Response Programs.
June 28: 2 Corinthians 8:7-15 is at the heart of Paul's extended teaching on financial stewardship. Paul first expresses his desire to see us excel in our generosity. The foundation of our generosity is grounded in following the example given to us in Christ's emptying himself so that we will become rich in faith. In our generosity we give ourselves to Christ. Further, he speaks of completing what we have begun which is the first clue of a planned gift we call a pledge. Paul then speaks of giving from what you have--a gift of proportion, which is not restricted by the notion of a tithe. You may wish to take on the entire 2 Corinthian 8 & 9 teaching and consider this as a bible study format.
July 12: Ephesians 1:3-14 describes the foundational relationship we have received from God in Christ. Look at the language of this text and you will begin to understand the relational characteristic of a Gospel that transforms our fears of scarcity into an encouragement of the confident life at the heart of stewardship: "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, that he lavished on us." The words of the entire text overflow with the language of stewardship....glorious grace...freely bestowed. I might title this stewardship sermon, "Watch your language."
July 26: John 6:1-21 is John's account of the feeding of the 5,000 where all ate as much as they wanted and gathered enough left-overs for another meal. In a culture of scarcity where few can find satisfaction, those who follow Christ have life fulfilled in thanksgiving, trust and transformation. Being fed by Christ is the beginning point of our stewardship relationship. The Ephesians text assigned for this Sunday says it well, "Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than we can ask or imagine...."
August 16: I have preached the Ephesians 5:15-20 text as a guide for our stewardship of time. Many people have expressed the notion that their time is as important to them as their money. Time as a possession does slip through our fingers and the admonition here is helpful, "giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Once again the relational character of stewardship is the focus as we center ourselves in Christ.
September 13: Mark 8:27-38 can be summarized by Thanksgiving, Trust, and Transformation. This is the first time Jesus is confessed as the Christ. It did not take place in church but at a place that was surrounded by the biggest distractions of his day with statues of gods and goddesses and a Roman sports stadium close by. It took place at the Mall of America or Texas Stadium. The stewardship of our lives likewise takes place where we spend our time, money, and declare our loyalties. This is a great stewardship text!
October 11: Mark 10:17-31 is the classic text of a rich young ruler who asks Jesus a loaded question and receives an answer that takes him by surprise. He had based his question on a confidence in keeping his faith practice separate from his relationship to money and possessions. He was over the top in faith practice and anemic in heartfelt congruence. We must be careful in asking such questions of Jesus.
A few words on each text are hardly enough but it would be enough if you consider taking them to the next step.
Glenn Taibl is Co-Director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders.
Image credit: © Ignacio García Losa (ignaciogarcialosa.com) via Flickr. Used by permission.