The Christian life is shaped by gratitude – gratitude for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit. It is by God’s grace that we receive the gift of our own lives, and so we are called to shape the whole of our lives by our grateful response. “The stewardship of all of life” is a common phrase, yet too often stewardship is reduced to an annual program, the annual program is reduced to the means to achieve an end, and the end is reduced to the church budget. “Gratitude for all of life” may be a way to broaden and deepen our understanding and our use of the gifts God has given us.
As we prepare to observe the 500th year of the Protestant Reformation, we should recall that all was not darkness in the Great Church before Luther with his 95 theses on true repentance. In the 14th Century, poet and priest William Langland wrote a long, influential poem, “Piers the Ploughman” (ploughman being the standard way of speaking about the working yet desperate poor). Langland wrote in Middle English, but thanks to Marilynne Robinson we have a modern English rendering of some passages.
“If the poor man is pursued by Sloth and fails to serve God well, then Adversity is his teacher, reminding him that his greatest helper is not man, but God, and that Jesus is truly his servant (for He said so Himself) and wears the poor man’s livery. And even if God does not help him on earth, yet he knows that Jesus bears the sign of poverty, and saved all of mankind in that apparel.”
Describing theologians [monks] at dinner: “Meanwhile some poor wretch may cry at their gate, tormented by hunger and thirst and shivering with cold; yet no one asks him in or eases his suffering, except to shoo him off like a dog. Little can they love the Lord who gives them so much comfort, if this is how they share it with the poor! Why, if the poor had no more mercy that the rich, all the beggars would go to bed with empty bellies. For the gorges of the great theologians are often crammed with God’s Name, but His mercy and His works are found among the poor.”
Langland may remind us that there were always reformers in the church bore the Reformation, and that the church reformed is still in need of being reformed.
Featured Mission Partner:
Diaconia Evangelical Church of Czech Bretheren
Diaconia – Human Traffic
Shocking as it may sound, modern day slavery is real, and happening all around us. Women and men, often young girls and boys are lured into forced labor and sex trafficking. Many of them come from already dire circumstances in desperate countries like Moldova.
Diaconia-CRD, a ministry of our Reformed partner Church of the Czech Brethren, is doing significant ministry to stop human trafficking in Eastern Europe, and to care for those left behind when loved ones are taken.
Last Chance to Register: Stewardship Kaleidoscope 2016
If you have no idea where the funds will come from this year to support your church’s ministry…
If your stewardship campaigns are tired and ineffective…
If you the idea of talking to your congregation about money makes you shudder…
If you’ve just recruited a new stewardship or finance chair who wants to help turn things around but isn’t sure where to begin…
COME TO STEWARDSHIP KALEIDOSCOPE
February 29 – March 2
San Antonio, Texas
It’s not too late to register and plan to attend the premier stewardship and generosity conference in the PCUSA.