For the month of October – as has become the tradition here at PB UMC – we will be entering into our Stewardship conversations. In doing so, we’ll be exploring concepts from Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christenson’s book How Will You Measure Your Life? (available online here for those who wish, though not required).
Before delving into Christenson’s book, we begin with a simple-sounding question: Why stewardship? Of course, this question leads to many others. What is stewardship? Is it just about money and funding the church and staff salaries? Or is it something bigger? Why is stewardship important? How do we know?
Genesis 1:1-2:3 (CEB)
1 When God began to create the heavens and the earth— 2the earth was without shape or form, it was dark over the deep sea, and God’s wind swept over the waters— 3God said, “Let there be light.” And so light appeared. 4God saw how good the light was. God separated the light from the darkness. 5God named the light Day and the darkness Night.
There was evening and there was morning: the first day.
6God said, “Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters to separate the waters from each other.” 7God made the dome and separated the waters under the dome from the waters above the dome. And it happened in that way. 8God named the dome Sky.
There was evening and there was morning: the second day.
9God said, “Let the waters under the sky come together into one place so that the dry land can appear.” And that’s what happened. 10God named the dry land Earth, and he named the gathered waters Seas. God saw how good it was. 11God said, “Let the earth grow plant life: plants yielding seeds and fruit trees bearing fruit with seeds inside it, each according to its kind throughout the earth.” And that’s what happened. 12The earth produced plant life: plants yielding seeds, each according to its kind, and trees bearing fruit with seeds inside it, each according to its kind. God saw how good it was.
13There was evening and there was morning: the third day.
14God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will mark events, sacred seasons, days, and years. 15They will be lights in the dome of the sky to shine on the earth.” And that’s what happened. 16God made the stars and two great lights: the larger light to rule over the day and the smaller light to rule over the night. 17God put them in the dome of the sky to shine on the earth, 18to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw how good it was.
19There was evening and there was morning: the fourth day.
20God said, “Let the waters swarm with living things, and let birds fly above the earth up in the dome of the sky.” 21God created the great sea animals and all the tiny living things that swarm in the waters, each according to its kind, and all the winged birds, each according to its kind. God saw how good it was. 22Then God blessed them: “Be fertile and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.”
23There was evening and there was morning: the fifth day.
24God said, “Let the earth produce every kind of living thing: livestock, crawling things, and wildlife.” And that’s what happened. 25God made every kind of wildlife, every kind of livestock, and every kind of creature that crawls on the ground. God saw how good it was. 26Then God said, “Let us make humanity in our image to resemble us so that they may take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and all the crawling things on earth.”
27God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them, male and female God created them.
28God blessed them and said to them, “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and master it. Take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, and everything crawling on the ground.” 29Then God said, “I now give to you all the plants on the earth that yield seeds and all the trees whose fruit produces its seeds within it. These will be your food. 30To all wildlife, to all the birds in the sky, and to everything crawling on the ground—to everything that breathes—I give all the green grasses for food.” And that’s what happened. 31God saw everything he had made: it was supremely good.
There was evening and there was morning: the sixth day.
2 The heavens and the earth and all who live in them were completed. 2On the sixth day God completed all the work that he had done, and on the seventh day God rested from all the work that he had done. 3God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all the work of creation.
Consider these questions:
- What has your experience been in this (or another) faith community regarding Stewardship?
- What does Stewardship mean to you?
- Is Stewardship important?
Post-Sermon Update on 10/9
Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found at this link (will open in a new tab).
Sunday’s message was largely practical, though that doesn’t mean it wasn’t deeply theological. In exploring the Genesis text, we are reminded that everything in the universe comes from God, and that creation has been given into the care – has been placed in the stewardship – of humanity.
As United Methodists, we understand that we enter into covenant with our fellow members and participants of this faith community and the spiritual responsibility of stewardship. In this covenant, we make a commitment to support the ministries of the church with our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness. With each of these opportunities to support the ministries of the church, we can recognize and nurture God’s creative Spirit.
Consider these questions:
- What does it look like like to see each of these (prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness) as gifts from God that are placed in our care? Does this change how you’ve thought of these before?
- With this in mind, how do you feel called to respond?