“God has his ‘being-in-relationship,’ he has created human beings to have their ‘being’ in relationship.”
Stewardship = Re-gifting
“All tithes of the land, whether in grain from the fields of in fruit from the trees, belong to the Lord; they are sacred to the Lord.” Leviticus 27:30
During the Christmas season, “re-gifting” is prevalent. The blue shirt with neon green piping given to me by great-cousin Alphonso is then given by me to my great-nephew, who re-gifted it to his girlfriend’s sister’s boyfriend. That sweater has traveled more times and to various places than a Carnival Cruise Line!
In a spiritual and theological sense, stewardship is a holy type of re-gifting. It is not that we give what we do not want. Rather, we give because we desire to share what is good that we possess, whether that be talent, time, or treasure. What we give to the Lord and others is sacred because the Lord God has creation is sacred and freely given. Stewardship regards the sacred value of ourselves, others, and what both can share with one another for communion in the community. If the sacred remains hoarded and isolated, does it risk becoming corrosive?
Consequently, stewardship is based on an individual’s need to give, not on the other’s need to receive. According to the International Theological Commission’s work entitled Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God, “The created image affirmed by the Old Testament is, according to the New Testament, to be completed in the imago Christi [Image of Christ],” Chapter 1, 11. We need to give because we are created in the image and likeness of a God who is the Divine Giver and Steward. Each of the three Divine Persons in the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) exists for the Others and joyful shares what He possesses with the other because of this awareness that what one gives is something sacred and blessed. Because of our brokenness and woundedness resulting from Sin, we can perceive that what we possess either has no sacredness or that its value is greater than to share with anyone, especially if we feel that others are unworthy or not valuable.
Stewardship, then, is living with gratitude and joy because God provides us an opportunity to share the sacredness of our talent, time, and treasure. It is sacred because they become the manifestations and means to share a part of ourselves so that others never remain apart from one another. Stewardship creates a conviction and commitment of thanksgiving to God that we have something of value (ourselves) so that we can share with others and enrich their and our lives. And by engaging in stewardship, we gain greater appreciation of God having shared with us invaluable gifts. We appreciate ourselves as recipients: vessels filled with good wine to be poured out as libations that refresh others.
I conclude with a quote from Bishop Robert J. Rose of Grand Rapids, Michigan: “Stewardship is not just one more thing, one more program, one more way of getting things done or of raising money. It is the way of life of disciples of the Lord Jesus. It is following the Lord Jesus on the way of gratitude and generosity.” I invite and welcome anyone to call the office to schedule an appointment with me to assist in discerning with you about your role as a steward in our parish. Do not pass by this opportunity of God’s grace and gift to share yourself. Peace and grace, Fr. Russell