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Dana Reardon's Weekly Reflection
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2004

Dec. 27 -  Giving well is part of living well "While I can give to Lutheran World Hunger and know they are being really careful with my money, I decided I would give with a little less caution this year. . We have an extravagant God who makes me feel rich with all that I have been given.  I want to pass that feeling on."

Dec. 20 - Generosity is about passing along God's grace. "Generosity is about giving out of abundance and thankfulness to others even when they don't deserve. Jesus talked a lot about giving to the poor.  The term deserving poor is not there.  Giving is not even about who the recipients are - it is enough that they are God's children.  Generosity is about who we are as givers."

Dec. 13 -  Help 'A Bunch of Guys' make a difference. "The Spirit is out there in the world calling us to see the hungry and the needy and the homeless and to give what we can of our talents and our wealth to become one with that Spirit that calls us. We become one with the Spirit, the breath of life and maybe it is "in there" when we Take a Breath."

Dec. 6 -  Pass the peace of Christ this Advent.  "Christ willingly offers Himself to us to offer us a peace that is beyond comprehension, but nonetheless real.  It is a peace that increases with sharing rather than dissipating. It is a little like the loaves and fishes.  Broken and blessed, the peace of Christ abounds when it is shared."

Nov. 22 - Thanksgiving in a dangerous time.  "We all gather.  We gather to give thanks.  We give thanks that we have been given each other to celebrate with and to mourn, to worry with and to pray with.  We give thanks that some of us have enough to share and to truly live the meaning of the words, 'giving thanks' "

Nov. 15 - A generous leap of faith -- "Making the decision to tithe is a little like jumping off a cliff into the water below.  You can hear the water but you can't see it.  So you trust that it is there.  It really does catch you and hold you and refresh you when you hit it."

Nov. 8 - Teaching gratitude -- "Perhaps when people are beginners at this stewardship thing, we should do what we do with young children and just teach them how to say thanks.  Help them to see what is an appropriate response to all that God has given them.  If and when they discover how grateful they are and how good God has been to them, they will be grateful to us for helping them learn how to give."

Nov. 1 -  Children show us the joy of sharing --  "We should all get as excited as children about passing out whatever is given to us.  First we pass out what we got in church: God's love and grace, forgiveness, God's Word or hope. Then we pass out what God has given us to share in the rest of our lives.  We share the time and possessions that move through our hands." 

Oct. 25 - To live fully is the best response to death --  "We are all going to die.  If no one has pronounced the sentence yet, let me say it now.  We are all going to die.  I always figure that is why we have Ash Wednesday, in case some of us haven't heard.  But what are we going to do between now and the time of our death?  Whose lives will we change?  What difference will our lives have made to the lives around us and to the world? " 

Oct. 18 -  'Go in peace! serve the poor! --   "As I stood in back of church today and dismissed the congregation with the words that I borrowed from the intern at the church across town, 'Go in peace, serve the poor,' I got flack from a member who told me that I was supposed to say, 'serve the Lord.' I told him it was the same thing. I believe that it is.

Oct. 11 - More than balancing the church's books -- "I have been hearing and reading what I have already recognized:  There is a disparity between what stewardship leaders want to teach and lead and what congregations want. Congregations are looking for a plan to increase the amount of money they take in every week so they can balance the budget and keep the doors open. Stewardship leaders want to talk about generosity as a way of life." In Dana Reardon's weekly reflection.

Oct.4 - Charity's most valuable gift: Hope -- "We who talk stewardship and those who would give need first to be sure in the hope of a better world.  We need to see what Jesus saw when he laid hands on a leper or fed hungry people with little.  We need to see strong healthy people caring for each other."

Sept. 27 - We must be compassionate, yes, but strong. "Mother Theresa is portrayed as loving and compassionate, and certainly she was, but to work under the conditions she did and care for the dirty, filthy, cast-off people.  She had to be incredibly strong and brave.  To leave a well-to-do household to live on nothing but what God provided, she had to know that Jesus that I know." 

Sept. 20 - Giving for a rainy day.  "If I have been given more than I really need and there are people out there like this couple or people in Florida who are hurting from a hurricane or children who are hungry then what I need to do is to increase my giving beyond a tithe."

Sept. 13 - Generous alternatives to tithing.  "I believe the era of the church being the established temple of the people, if it ever did exist in that sense, is over.  That does not mean the message of Jesus no longer needs to be proclaimed.  It is just that as we need to explore new ways to do evangelism -- that is, to get the word out -- maybe we need to explore new ways to support the ministry."

Sept. 6 -  Why should God care what we believe? "God wants us to know how much we are loved.  God sent God's son for that very purpose. Jesus nailed to a cross is the only picture God has ever sent us of who God is.  That is the ultimate statement of love for all of us."

Aug. 30 - Worship feeds us, so we can feed God's sheep.  "I had a thought when I was meditating on so many hurts and sorrows in this world.  We put up so many crosses and crucifixes to remind us of Christ.  I think Christ would like it if instead of our gaze being upon the cross, that we would check out the view from the cross." 

Aug. 23 -Transform your indignation into action.  "What is it that you are justifiably angry at?  It is something you think someone else has fallen down on?  Is it something you may even be angry at someone in church or the government or even God for? So get angry and call someone. But don't stop there. Do what you can do about it." 

Aug. 16 - Go in peace! Serve the poor!  "But this road in the Christian life, this way of the cross passes by many people all over the world.  It passes by soup kitchens in our neighborhood and disaster victims in Florida and aids victims in Africa.  If we haven't seen them on our journey maybe it is because we aren't making the journey.'"

Aug. 9 - Affluence vs. being rich toward God. "Not being rich toward God is about needing things or more things.  Do you ever think, 'If I just had this much more or made this much more a year, then I would have enough.'  Do you ever say, 'When I get to this point financially then I can help out my church or give to world hunger.'" 

Aug. 2 - Where your budget is, your heart is also. "What is lobbying for my attention and my money?  Am I any better at looking at the whole picture before I do my budget?  Am I any better at seeing where my heart lies? Is it so easy to open my purse for fast food and less easy for the hungry?  Does my momentary hunger outweigh global hunger?"

July 26 - Stewardship work is not stealing. "Stewardship ought to be changing your life and your way of looking at the world.  When I am robbed I feel violated.  When I learn to give I feel blessed. If my work as a stewardship leader does not leave you feeling richer instead of poorer and truly blessed by God, then I have not accomplished what I have set out to do."

July 19 - Let God's Blessings Flow - Through You. "The idea of not being independent scares us.  Rather than give first fruits, we make sure we have enough for us, and not just our daily bread, but enough for ever so that we never have to be dependent on anyone. This of course belies the idea that we are dependent first of all on God."

July 12 - Pocketbook Protests. "Withholding money is a problem that happens not only on the denominational level, but also on the congregational level.  I have heard it happening for all kinds of reasons.  Yes, because of social issues, but as likely because we don't agree on the new renovations or on the parking lot or we don't like the pastor."

July 5 - Needs Should Factor Into Giving. "Since all that we have is ours to share, then the great needs of those we encounter should make us open our hearts and our purses.  We cannot feel good when we have so much and others are in need."

June 28 - We Really Give What Is Not Ours. "Our goal as steward leaders is to help people understand that it really is easy to give back what is not ours in the first place.  We give back what we have been given.  We are failing at our job if we let money sit in all our pockets so long that we start thinking it is ours and we have other plans for it.  That is when it gets hard to ask people to give." 

June 21 - So Grateful, All We Can Do Is Give. "We use God to keep our kids in line.  We use guilt and obligation to get tithes out of people and work around the church. But nothing makes us generous and giving more than the knowledge that God provides everything without our effort."

June 14 - We Have All the Time in God's World. "You see, the scarcity of time is all in my head, and in the mistaken thought that I have to accomplish everything.  The more time I spend with God, the more I understand that we are all working God's will -- or better, that God's will is working through all of us and it is not so much what I individually accomplish as what gets done.  You see God has all the time in the world." 

June 7 - The Poor Will Always Be With Us, Therefore ... "If the poor are always with us then we should always have their needs in front of us.  If the poor are always with us, then we should think about them with every money decision we make.  If the poor are always with us, we should be giving and sharing until everyone is fed."

May 31 - Overcoming Our 'Musical Chairs' Mentality. "We live as if there is not enough, as if something is going to be pulled out from under us at any minute.  We had better get ours before any one else does. It doesn't matter how poor or how rich you are, chances are you are playing this game.  Those of us who do not consider ourselves rich think it is okay for us to play this game."

May 24 - Do We Donate as 'Friend' or 'Foe'? "People tell me that if others would tithe then they would as well, because then the system would work.  But if they give and others don't, then they feel they have wasted their money and they feel taken. But what I give is between God and me on one level, and I need to give it whether you do or not."

May 17 - Good Stewardship vs. Petty Frugality. "Did you ever go to a church picnic where they had generic soda?  Somebody wants you to know that they are being good stewards.  But they probably don't drink it any other time. People feel like good stewards when the church has old cast off furniture that is falling apart in the church parlors and gathering rooms.  It is cast off because no one wanted anything that looked that bad in their own house."

May 10 - The Measure of Our Faith. "Do you believe that God can do something even with your church? Do you believe that the Holy Spirit is strong enough to do something even with the fallible people with whom God has joined you together in community? God believes so.  God often puts together the least likely people in congregations and it seems to those people that nothing can happen among and through them, but it does."

May 3 - More Than Balancing the Books. "If the stewardship team does a good job then people will begin to realize that God is the source of everything in their lives and the reason for everything in their lives.  So yes, they will probably give more money to the church.  That is the part that the finance people are hoping for. But members will also bring their hopes and dreams to the church."

April 26 - No Time? Then It's Time To Pray. "For all of our talk about being justified by grace, sometimes we Lutherans function as if we think we are going to work ourselves into the kingdom.  If I just take on one more project or help one more person, then it will be enough."

April 19 - For the Beauty of the Earth. "So when you give thanks in prayer, give thanks for the beauty of the earth.  When you add your petitions for any in need, add the concerns for the environment. As we begin to daily pray for the earth and its renewal, we will be called into the cause of its renewal.  What we pray for will become what we work for.  What we pray for will become what we vote for."

April 12 - God's Will Be Done - With Us. "Maybe that is what daily dying and rising with Christ is all about.  We need to look over our lives and see what it is that we are glad we are spending our time doing and what it is we could just as soon not do to spend more time on the things we really feel called to do."

April 5 - Deathbed Reflections for Every Day. "Maybe that is what daily dying and rising with Christ is all about.  We need to look over our lives and see what it is that we are glad we are spending our time doing and what it is we could just as soon not do to spend more time on the things we really feel called to do."

March 29 - To See God's Hand in Everything. "When things are getting tough, sometimes we need to be reminded that God is with us.   I have to tell you I prayed all the way to the gas station the other day and coasted in on fumes, but sometimes when I am having a bad day, I can use a reminder that God is with me in it.  Sometimes God is leading me through it and sometimes away from a bad direction, but still God is there."

March 22 - Jesus's Subversive Message "Often God lays it upon my heart to reach out to people because they need the church.  They need to hear the good news of God's love. We all do."
In Dana Reardon's weekly reflection.

March 15 - The First Fruits of Ourselves. Even when choosing a church or our jobs in the church we tend to think about what we are going to get out it instead of what we could give. We need to give the first fruits of our time and energy too, and to give it where God needs it. 

March 8 - Kicking the Consumer Habit. Some of us come to stewardship late in life.  Rather than being taught how to put God first and plan our lives around first fruits, we have already committed to big mortgages and a lifestyle that can threaten to consume more and more money all the time. 

March 1 - Decisions Before It's Too Late. In this day when the majority of our health care dollars are spent at the end of our lives when the quality is poor, I believe that every Christian should have a living will and designate someone to make decisions for them. 

Feb. 23 - Generosity: A Form of Insanity? I have long maintained that those who want to read the Bible literally should begin with Jesus's words to man who comes along asking how to inherit eternal life. In Matthew 19, Jesus advises the man, "Sell all your possessions and give alms."

Feb. 16 - The Value of a Good Word It's always easier to motivate people to do their best by using a positive feedback than criticism. Everybody knows that, yet negative thinking still dominates in many organizations -- including our congregations. The strategy makes no stewardship sense.

Feb. 9 - A Dollar Saved, A Dollar Misused? "We are not being good stewards of what God has given us if we put the money in the bank that was meant to glorify God and to remember the people who have faithfully served God in our churches. We are being better stewards when we spend it."

Feb. 2 - High Calorie Stewardship.  "While it is true that spending stimulates the economy more than saving.  It does not necessarily stimulate it more than giving.  If I give $100 to a poor person or a charity, the odds even higher that it will get spent.  They need food and shelter.  They are certainly not going to hoard it."

Jan. 26 - Hard Stories, Hard Choices. "Being good stewards isn't always easy or pretty. We will struggle always to find the right answers when faced with those who demand what is not theirs. As we try to hold on to what is not ours but God's, hopefully we will all learn something."

Jan. 19 - No Such Thing As Foolish Generosity. "We are told that we never know when we are entertaining angels unknown to us. Luther says that this is how we are called to live.  But he also points out that often it won't be angels we are entertaining.  He acknowledges that we will get taken frequently if we live the life we are called to."

Jan 12 - Extravagant Stewardship. "Our job here on earth is to give others a glimpse into the kingdom.  It is to let others see the good and gracious and loving Father in what we do and how we live."

Jan. 5 - See Through the Generous Eyes of Christ. "God doesn't leave us there in guilt.  That has always been the good news of the Gospel.  The one who created us for good and redeemed us for love has the power to transform us."