By Rob Dalgleish, Minister, Westminster United Church, Mississauga, Ontario,
Summary: Stewardship is about realizing and claiming deeply in our hearts the astonishing truth that God calls each of us by name. We are God’s chosen, beloved children, whose lives have been called into God’s wondrous and deep purposes for all of creation. We need to realize that we are gifted by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be about that purpose and destiny in miraculous ways right in the midst of our everyday life in the world.
Are there days when you wake up and say, God, I don’t think I can get through this day by myself even if my life depended on it. So, please take control? On such days you feel the nearness of God like the warm, encouraging grasp of a loving parent’s hand on your shoulder. And it’s on such days that you witness miracles that you somehow don’t seem to notice on other days.
Why is it that often God seems closer when everything around us is going wrong? Why is it that in the midst of pain, fear, and doubts, we are often touched with a joy so profound? Perhaps it’s like giving birth--The pains of labor fade so quickly in the tide of joy that comes from experiencing a miracle of new life.
When we hear the word stewardship we reflexively reach for our back pocket or clutch our purse a little tighter just as a kind of reassurance that our wallets are still there. It’s as if stewardship is about how much money we should give to the church, or how much time or talent we should offer to the life and work of the church. But that’s not what stewardship is all about. Stewardship is about realizing and claiming deeply in our hearts the astonishing truth that God calls each of us by name. We are God’s chosen, beloved children, whose lives have been called into God’s wondrous and deep purposes for all of creation. We need to realize that we are gifted by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be about that purpose and destiny in miraculous ways right in the midst of our everyday life in the world. Coming to this realization is like being given a whole new life, like being born again--born from above, born of the Spirit.
Born of the Spirit
Nicodemus, a respected Pharisee and leader in the Jewish community, comes to Jesus under cover of night. He indicates his sincerity and respect for Jesus, but just does not seem to be able to get hold of what Jesus is telling him about being born from above. Often, in the New Testament, we find Jesus critical of the Pharisees when they got caught up in their should’s and should not’s. The Pharisees were sticklers for the law. You should tithe this, you should ritually clean that. Jesus says to him, Nicodemus, no one can see the Kingdom of heaven, unless they are born from above, born of water and the Spirit. It’s as if Jesus is saying, Nicodemus it’s not about the should’s and should not’s. The law is important because it points us to things from above, like justice, mercy, compassion. It’s about a whole new life, in the Spirit. Only when you live in the Spirit, will you see the Kingdom of Heaven in the Law.
The house lights had just come down and a hush came over the hall. All you could hear was the rustling of the programs. The stage was in complete darkness until a single tight beam of light illuminated a dancer at rest. The rising hum of the base strings in the orchestra seemed to be the hum of life taking shape in the dancer’s movement. As she began to move around the stage she stopped and gestured as if to reach out and touch a part of the village scene. At her touch that part of the scene would light up and come to life. She leaped and turned, delighting in her dance until all the stage was alive with the color and light. Finally, facing the audience, she came to rest. And suddenly, with exaltation flashing in her gaze, she threw her arms into the air, and the sound and movement of the hustle and bustle of life in the village burst onto our senses.
It was a memorable opening for a musical, but more importantly, it was and is an image of dancing new life into a being. To be born again from above, born of the Spirit means to have our hearts embrace, to breath deeply of the life-giving, recreating Spirit of God in Christ. In His final words to His disciples, Jesus says If there is a thing to do, if there is a commandment I leave you it is this. ?Love one another, as I have loved you’ (Jn 13:34). The Spirit enables us to love one another in the generous joyful way that Christ loved us.
That’s what stewardship is about. It’s more than money or talents. It’s about being called. It’s about being gifted and empowered by the Holy Spirit to serve a higher purpose. Be His steward. Find your destiny in your everyday life.