Some churches across our denomination follow the tradition of Stewardship Sunday, which comes this year on November 14. Regardless of whether we are naturally timid or passionate about the subject, this Sunday invites us all to engage in life-giving talk about joyful, faithful stewardship and how we can nurture generous living.
I say “living,” not “giving,” because generosity is much more than just giving. It has to do with how we receive, manage, and use our energy, time, abilities, relationships, money and possessions, as well as how we share these same gifts. Generous living flows out of a generous heart, which refers to our total nonverbal witness. (For more on this, see the article “Nurturing Generous Living.”)
“First fruits living” is at the root of such radiant living and honest-to-God stewardship of the life God has entrusted to us. Our Mennonite sisters and brothers describe this biblical phrase as “giving the first and the best of all that God has entrusted to us, and using all the rest according to God’s generosity.” This embraces the whole of gospel living!
So Stewardship Sunday is really a great celebration! It’s a time to lift up the over-the-top beauty and goodness of our generous God and the quality of living freely and responsibly on God’s behalf.
The Bible offers a wealth of texts for preaching and teaching, including Jesus’ words in Luke 12:13-21 about being “rich toward God.” Or how about Matthew 6:24-34, where Jesus says we cannot worship both God and money, not to worry about our lives, and to trust our Creator. St. Paul is equally challenging and affirming in 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 about acknowledging our abundant blessings, giving intentionally and with joyful abandon, and prompting a ripple-out effect overflowing with thanksgivings to God. Another outstanding passage is 2 Corinthians 4:5-7, about letting our earthenware lives cradle and then pour out the treasure of the gospel.
Wherever we look in the Scriptures, it’s all about stewardship — nurturing generous living in response to our extravagantly generous God. So have a terrific Stewardship Sunday!
Your partner in ministry,
Written 11/1/2011 for the General Board of Discipleship
of the United Methodist Church