Summary: This is the first in a series of stewardship sermons aimed at priming the pump; getting people to think of stewardship as more than money, but a whole way of life.
Come On In, The Water’s Fine
October 14, 2007
This morning, we are beginning a journey. It is an annual journey; this year it will culminate on November 18 with our Consecration/Thanksgiving Sunday. I am obviously talking about the annual stewardship emphasis. Notice that I didn’t say “finance campaign” because stewardship is about so much more than just money. To be sure, we will talk about money a little bit, but there will be much more discussion on other aspects of stewardship, of how we can live our whole lives as stewards of God’s gifts.
I know that everyone gets nervous this time of year. I think that there are many reasons for that, perhaps as many reasons as there are people here today. But let me offer up a few of the reasons that we get filled with anxiety during the fall.
Back about fifteen years ago when I served up in Crown Point, the church decided to hold its annual stewardship emphasis in the spring. We began our fiscal year on July 1. The thought was that if we got away from the expensive time of year leading up to Christmas, people would feel better. I don’t know if that church is still doing that or not. If they are, I don’t know if they are any more successful than we were back in the early nineties. All I know is that the season of the year for the stewardship emphasis just didn’t seem to make a difference in people’s attitudes. Folks still got antsy. Here are some of the reasons, from my perspective.
• Some of us get angry with the preacher for talking about money from the pulpit. After all, this should be a personal thing, they say, between the individual and God. And what right does the preacher have telling people how much they should give.
• Some of us are embarrassed because we wish we were contributing more to the church, but we’re not.
• Some of us are giving all that we can and don’t know how we are going to give more.
• Some of us have been let down by the church and don’t want to support it.
• Some of us don’t like the some of the ways the church spends money, and we’re not going to give our money just to be wasted.
• Some people just put up with this time of year because they know it is something we have to do, but there is little joy in it.
• Some more of us are uncomfortable because we don’t really understand the larger meaning of living a life as a steward of God’s grace. We think that stewardship is all about money.
One of the things that I hope you have learned from me over the past few years is that stewardship is so much more than just money. It is an attitude of dependence upon God, a recognition of our place in the universe, an understanding that we have been given the task of caring for the world God has given us, a belief that we have the responsibility to nurture all of God’s gifts – no matter how large or how small.
Stewardship is so much more than money. It concerns all of life. Surely our gifts are part of that, but so are our prayers, our presence, our service, and our commitment.
I don’t always do well in those areas. I want to do better and I believe that your presence here means that you want to do better as well, not as a way to work your way into heaven, but as a way to respond to God because of God’s graciousness to you.
My maternal grandparents lived on a farm just a couple of miles north of the Indiana/Michigan state line. They moved off the farm when I was about five or six years old, but I still remember the place. Most of all, I remember that they didn’t have running water. The trip back to the outhouse got pretty cold in the winter, and pretty hot in the summer.
Another thing I remember was the pump. Right inside the back door was a pump for the well. Every time we needed water for something, we’d have to pump it. There was a tin cup hanging there. When we were thirsty, we could fill that cup up with cold, clear water. I still remember how wonderful that water was.
Sometimes though, you’d pump and pump and pump, and nothing would happen. Then you would know that you had to prime the pump. You’d have to pour a little water in the pump itself to get it going.
That’s what I want to do this morning – prime the pump. I want to get us started thinking about the life of stewardship. Let me prime the pump by suggesting four considerations to keep in mind as we move through the next few weeks.