Hope Lutheran Church
What is a Steward?
What is a steward, and why would we use “stewardship” to describe our life as Christians? Good Questions! Over the years the word stewardship has become a word despised by many in the church, even among pastors, because its functioning definition has been stripped down to this simple phrase, “Give us your money, people.” It comes as little surprise considering the mainstream program/approach to talking about our role as stewards and our giving went something like this:
In Jesus day, a steward or chief steward was given the responsibility of keeping the affairs of the household in order. This didn’t simply mean cleaning, cooking, and making sure the kids took off their shoes when coming in from outside. It was keeping the finances, making business decisions, and keeping the daily operations and economy of the whole household working. Though the steward didn’t own the household, the steward was entrusted with all the resources of the household. The steward was deeply respected and yoked with a great burden of accountability. Notice the chief steward was the one tasked to first taste the water that turned into wine at the Wedding in Cana, in John’s Gospel. It would have been his responsibility to ensure the wedding ceremony went off without a hitch, so it was his rear-end on the line when they ran out!
Since our Theology of stewardship begins with the first article of the Apostles Creed, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth”, we recognize that God is the Creator and rightful owner of everything. As such the scriptures remind us often that, “The heavens are yours [God’s], the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it – you have founded them.” Psalm 89:11
It is helpful to remember this, because it clears up one of the most disturbing facts of life in this world. Nothing belongs to us. Everything belongs to God. So if it all belongs to God, then to whom does God call to steward it all? Great question! In Genesis God gives humanity “dominion” (Gen 1:26) and commands that they “subdue” and have “dominion” (Gen 1:28, NRSV) again. Our minds conjure up human varieties of domination that might not look so pleasing for those being subdued, yet when God gets around to explaining what this might look like, he places them in the garden (that God owns) and has them “till it and keep it,” (Gen 2:15) a.k.a. care for it. This is what stewardship is. It is caring for all the stuff, all the things, all the people God gives us to care for.
O.k. enough bible, theology stuff. As Luther would ask, “What does this mean?” It means that stewardship is a life-long thing that happens every moment of every day. When we wake up in the morning, and get breakfast prepared for ourselves or others, we are stewarding what God has given us. When are stewards of our food, members of our families, and our places within creation. When we teach or share the story of Jesus, we steward the Gospel of forgiveness of sins, and the hope of our young people/old people/people in between. When we donate to research organizations, we are caring for the research and knowledge that will hopefully lead to better health of God’s creation. When we pay taxes we steward the education of our young ones, the transportation and public works systems that support the life of our communities.
And, yes, even when we give of ourselves, our time, our money, and our possessions to the mission and ministry of Hope Lutheran Church, we are stewarding the very active and alive mission we are all given by God. We give because the mission and ministry of Hope Lutheran Church cares for, brings life to, and cultivates joy in the lives of others. We steward these things out of gratitude, not out of guilt, because of the abundance God surrounds us with for the sake of life here, now and forever.
It all belongs to God, but much is given and entrusted to us stewards. For all of this we give thanks, in this season of Thanksgiving. For that abundance, we say, “Thanks be to God!”
PS- For all who have responded in the past months by turning in estimate of giving cards, Thank You! Your pledge helps your elected leadership here at Hope plan for the upcoming year of mission and ministry that has been entrusted to us.
Pastor Jane Ekholm receives full call
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
I am so very grateful to you for suporting me in my seminary studies and call into specialized Ministry, I give thanks to God for each of you and all that you taught me as a member of HLC. Interim ministry and hospice chaplaincy (at CHI) has been a great way to give me experience in a concentrated time frame that has now qualified me for full time pastoral ministry. It is into full time ministry I have now received a new Call (Joel2: 28-29), and to which I joyfully say “yes”.
Hope Lutheran of Fosston has called me to be their senior pastor. They say, during my Interim, I have grown the church, grown the giving, and I relate to all ages. How God has blessed this ministry!!
Fosston is a wonderful community and Steve’s weekend commute is on good State highways that are always plowed and sanded from Walker. He hopes to slow down, if not retire in about 18 months (sounds like a long time, but last year it was 2.5 years!). I am so blessed to be “equally yoked” (2 Cor. 6:14) with a godly man who is a supportive partner in ministry (Gal. 3:28)!
Installation will be November 17th at 9:30 AM. You are all invited. The children’s choir will sing. Augustana District coordinator Randy Freund will do the honors and it would be great to see you there. If not, please keep me in your prayers. You are forever in my heart.
Agape’, Pastor Jane Ekholm