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Dana Reardon's Weekly Reflection
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December 25 - We Are Stewards Of The Gift Of Community. "One of the things I notice that is really different within churches is a true sense of community.  Outside of churches, you really notice the lack of community. I sat talking to my manicurist the other day.  She is a single mom with a 3 1/2-year-old-autistic child. She really has no one but herself to count on."

December 4 - Buy Gifts For Those Who Need Them. "May I suggest then that instead you try shopping for the persons who have nothing.  It can be so much less frustrating and more rewarding.  it is easy to figure out what to give the person who has noting.  Check out the Heifer Project of the fair trade offerings of the ELCA.  My guess is that other denominations have similar connections to those who have little."

Nov. 28 - What Really Keeps Churches Viable? "I was asked to preach for a Stewardship Sunday last week. Afterward there was a luncheon at which I spoke.   People have gotten the strange idea that I know something about stewardship.  But I am still trying to decide if I like preaching at these events.  No matter what I say in my sermon, invariably the discussion after gets down to how to balance the books and keep the church doors open."

Nov. 20 - Thanksgiving in Good Times and Bad"Stewardship really is all about giving thanks.  We give thanks all the time. On Sunday we celebrate the Great Thanksgiving and every morning when we wake up and remember our baptism we give thanks.  So why celebrate a holiday in November dedicated to giving thanks?"

Nov. 13 - Demonstrate a little warmth for the poor. "When I worked as a nurse, a young mother brought in her baby sick and filthy.  It was March.  She said she hadn't bathed the baby since fall because it was too cold. I haven't demonstrated for years.  But this is not worldly politics.  It is the politics of God.  In my ordination and in our churches constitution I am called to stand with the poor and the powerless.

Nov. 6 - Most saints leave an unseen legacy. "But individually I don't think it is something we think about our even should, perhaps.  Scripture doesn't talk much about how we will be remembered here on earth. In fact, if anything Scripture reminds us that we are dust, or that our days are fleeting." 

Oct. 30 - God promises us riches, but not wealth. "Jesus tells parables about a man who wastes his life accumulating wealth and then dies.  And the message is that what he accumulated will perish with him, but that there are greater riches in the kingdom. And Jesus also tells us that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven.  So if God wants us rich maybe it is because God doesn't want us in heaven?" 

Oct. 23 - Break free of 'climate-controlled' faith. "We still can get to the place where we are rich enough and prosperous enough and don't really need God. We are a prosperous nation. Revelations 3:15-17 warns of lukewarm faith. It is about the lukewarm faith of a self-satisfied people." 

Oct. 16 - Tithing is a matter of priorities. "I have never regretted tithing.  It changed my life and my perspective.  It opened my heart to be more generous and to see where I can give instead of acquire.  I pray that owning a house again does not change that, but I know it will not ever make me an ex tither." 

Oct. 9 - God Never Becomes Complacent. Should We? "When we give, we give to God. And as stewards we are also charged with managing the money and caring for God's property, but it never belongs to us. So that day never dawns when we get to give less or get to relax or retire." 

Oct. 2 - Breathe -- and be thankful for breath. nurse long before I was a pastor and I know how intricate is the body and how many things can go wrong. Given this, I am always amazed that we are healthy so much of the time. How many times does our heart beat? A reasonable estimate for the number of heartbeats in a lifetime is about three billion." 

Sept. 25 - We surrender our heart, soul -- then wallet. "Luther said that the hardest conversion is the pocketbook. How does that occur?  Does it happen all at once?  Can anyone name the hour or the day that she first gave her pocketbook to God, the way she can name the day she gave her heart? 

Sept. 11 - Fall is a great time to clean out your schedule  "What is it in your life that really gives life to you and to others, and what merely takes your time?  And even if some of the things you are doing are important to others, maybe you no longer need to be the one to do them." 

Aug. 21 - Help for church budget woes, but no quick fix. "It takes a long time and a lot of relearning for people to fight a debilitating disease like anorexia.  A whole different image of who they are and they are worth what is life giving have to be mastered. It is true for churches with poor stewardship." 

Aug. 14 - What Makes a Volunteer Tick? "I deal with so many people who give so much time for which they do not get paid, helping others and meeting human need.  And if there are any thank you's  or kudos, they are few and far between and so removed from the initial impulse to help that I doubt that they would be a motivating factor." 

Aug. 7 - Stewardship advice is just a prayer away. "Corporately we might pray that we be good stewards, but we don't often pray about money individually.  Okay, so maybe we do when it comes to needing some, or to give thanks when God has been generous. Do you ever pray, "Lord I just got a big raise, how should it change my life?"  or, "What should I do with my income tax return this year?"

July 31 - The real miracle at the feeding of 5000. "There are all kinds of miracles going on in the story.  Often people want to focus on just one. They want to point to the miracle of being able to feed so many people with so little. That is what a real miracle is about isn't it? Doing what is impossible?"

July 24 - The measure of a steward. "We are the Body of Christ in this world.  Not just when we gather in church.  Sure, church is where the bread is broken and we are constituted into the Body of Christ, but it is in the world where we work and play that we are sent to be Christ to a hurting world."

July 17 - What is your stewardship credo? "The creeds express a world view which sees the primary work of God as bringing about salvation and reconciliation between God and God's people and among all God's people.  It is a sureness that God's Spirit is at work in this world, working through God's Word to bring people to faith and to the new life that God offers."

July 10 - Faithful discipleship is risky business. "A church that is willing to risk for the sake of the Gospel is young at heart and will grow and spread God's Word.  Churches that incur debt to grow are usually thriving. Churches that hang on to their money as if there is not going to be an offering next week begin to be in trouble."

July 3 - Assumptions about giving are hard to shake. "For all of you who still operate out of a Depression Era sense of scarcity, let me remind you that giving was much more generous in the Depression than it is now.  If giving increase even at the rate of inflation and increased wealth since then our churches would all be doing well."

June 26 - Relish, Embrace, Use Silence. The silence between activity gives meaning to all of it. Think about it for a minute. Every new and creative thought comes out of the silence and not out of the constant stream of commentary in your brain. God breaks into the silence to talk to us."

June 19 - God is always creating and re-creating.  "If we conceive of creation as something that happened in the past when God created the heavens and the earth, then getting back to the original state would be good.  But when we understand creation as the ongoing work of the  Trinity, then we look forward to something new and better."

June 5 - Mom was right: We must clean up after ourselves.  "We think that we can continue to pollute until we run out of fossil fuels or until a cleaner source of energy comes along, and then we can clean it all up and everything will be fine. Christians do not have a great track record when it comes to taking care of the environment."

May 29 - Managing God's bounty. There is no better bargain to be had in this world than fact that God lets you keep 90 percent of what is really God's. Even if we rightly turn over our life to God and let God run it.  if we see God as our manager, then it is still a bargain, because any other manager would want 15 percent."

May 22 - Personal fulfillment versus fulfilling God's purposes  "I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be stewards of the mysteries of God. We talk a lot in stewardship circles about using our gifts. And each of us has great gifts that can be used for the glory of God. But the Gospel is a greater gift and all the others are in service to it."

May 15 - Jesus' subversive message.   "One week the Sunday school lesson was on Jesus saying, "If someone asks for your coat, give him your cloak also."  The teacher clearly understood the subversive message of Jesus but it made her uncomfortable. She said, "Jesus didn't really mean for you to do that." Really? Then just what did Jesus mean?"

May 8 - Developing a vision for God's Kingdom.  "Every community need can be seen as an opportunity to share God's love.  We should be getting up every morning and wondering how we can share God's love and spending our days looking for resources and opportunities to further the kingdom."

May 1 - A lifetime of servanthood is built day by day. "Our church secretary retired this week.  It will be a loss for us, but I pray that it will be a blessing to her.  I believe she has retired a few times before.  She used her gifts in the corporate world for many years and then worked in another church before here."

April 24 - Unwrap and use your God-given talents.
"If watching American Idol inspires you to find out what you are made of and what you are capable of, then God bless it.  If it just keeps you from exploring who you are and what gifts God has given you to use in this world, then turn it off and get out there. Who are you and who is this God who has made you?

April 17 - The cross powers our teaching on stewardship. "Often people will point to someone really generous that they admire and say, 'I would like to be like that.'  They think if the feelings of generosity ever comes then they will be able to give like that person and live like that person.  But in the meantime, they sit where they are and nothing changes"

April 10 - The physics of financial giving. "Often people will point to someone really generous that they admire and say, 'I would like to be like that.'  They think if the feelings of generosity ever comes then they will be able to give like that person and live like that person.  But in the meantime, they sit where they are and nothing changes"

April 3 - Wholly enjoy your holy abundance.. "When we really understand that it is a giving and generous God who has created us and all that exists and desire to give it all to us, then we can indeed enjoy every moment and savor every mouthful and recognize the abundance of truly being given the Kingdom."

March 27 - Faith focuses us on the mission. "People who received or witnessed miracles came to believe that Jesus was the Son of God, that God was truly at work in the world.  That was the point of the miracles then, and that is still the point of the miracles today."

March 20 - A miracle for 'Miracle Sunday.' " Yearly deficit budgets can rob us of hope long before the money runs out.  That is what the miracle was about.  We have hope.  We see that God has blessed us with all that we need to do the work that God has given us."

March 13 - What is your personal mission statement? "Shouldn't every Christian see what God intended in this world even when it is not yet much in evidence and then work to make it happen? Begin by re-examining who you are.  Maybe look at your birth certificate, but more likely your baptismal certificate."

March 6 - Where is your time and money going? Really. "Lent is starting, and it is a good time to rethink so many things and to do more deliberately what we would like to do with our time, ourselves and our possessions -- or more appropriately, what God would like us to do with them."

Feb. 27 - The money we spend wisely does good, too. "There are so many small decision about our money and our stewardship that we struggle with when perhaps we don't have to.  Some of us spend more on our houses or cars or vacations."

Feb. 20 - Good stewardship means letting go. "We profess that it all belongs to God and we are just the caretakers.  And yet instead of seeing what the best use is for what we have and how it can benefit the most people, we hang on as if it really belongs to us, as if only we could best utilize it, while in truth no one is benefiting and none of it is being used for any good purpose."

Feb. 13 - Gospel, not guilt, best motivates givers." Do what my seminary Professor  Tim Wengert told me every time I e-mailed from my first parish with a problem. 'Preach the Gospel, Dana.'  Or as it says on his business card that I carry in my wallet and should look at more often, 'Preach the damn Gospel.'

Feb. 6 - Yes, it's about money, too! "Often people will say to me that stewardship is not all about money. Whenever someone gives me that line, I get a little suspicious that they are looking for some kind of absolution for their guilty feelings of not giving enough."

Jan. 30 - Do we trust God with our souls, but not our wallets? "The reasons that people give are pretty simple, but the reasons that people withhold their giving are much more complicated. If you talk to someone who tithes they will say something like, 'God has done so much for me,'  or, 'It is all about gratitude,' or 'It all belongs to God anyway.'  They are all variations on a theme that puts God at the center of their lives."

Jan. 23 - Expect a 'Miracle Sunday'. "To erase our congregation's $26,000 deficit, we need hope and faith in each other. We start to think, 'I really could afford to give another $500 a year, or maybe a $1,000, but if I give more and no one else does then there will still be a $25,000 deficit and I might as well have bought a new couch with the money.'

Jan. 16 - Tithing and giving are family decisions. "So what happens in a more pluralistic society when we marry outside our faith -- or more: someone who has no religious background? I have had many parishioners who have struggled with their giving or pledge because their spouse didn't have a similar commitment to church.  I know women who sneak onto the collection plate  money their husbands don't know about."

Jan. 9 - God's radical financial advice. "I can't help thinking about the foolishness of God being wiser than human wisdom. God's wisdom about money is much more radical than anything that we even want our kids to hear. Jesus didn't tell us to share 10 percent.  He said, 'Sell all your possessions and give alms.' "