November 8 - 14, 2004




A month of thanksgiving

Swinging on the blessings of God


I learned a lesson happiness this past week when the family celebrated my daughter Kiki's ninth birthday, marked by an especially generous outpouring of presents from her parents, schoolgirl friends and out-of-state relatives.


Kiki's little bedroom became a virtual Toys-R-Us showroom of the latest gifts to delight the heart of any third grader. And she loved all her presents and expressed deep gratitude.


So I was surprised by her response a few days later when I finally got around to one of those items languishing for months on my “to do” list. Spending a few bucks on sturdy rope at the hardware store, I took an old tire and strung up a swing from a branch high up in the big maple out back.


Forsaking her fancy toys, Kiki spent hours after school playing on the swing with her six-year-old brother, Kristian, until well after night had fallen and the frosty chill of November set in. I delighted to hear their happy squeals as I made dinner, and then had to coax them into the house with shepherd’s pie (a favorite) and hot chocolate.


In the rite of baptism in The Lutheran Book of Worship, we reject the Devil and all the Devil’s “empty promises.” In our consumer culture, we are especially vulnerable to the Devil's empty promise that it is our possessions and consumption that will make us happy. Like all the Devil's deceptions, that empty promise leads us away from God and destroys our soul. 


We reject that empty promise when we take our deepest happiness from the simplest gifts of the hand of God: Hope, love, faith, family, friends, the joy of play and being together.


Surrounded by the toys of her heart’s desire, Kiki found joy by pushing her brother on a tree swing made from an old tire and a length of rope. May all of us find bliss so near, so simple and so readily available.


-Rob Blezard, editor and webmaster


New this week:



Avoiding the connection between faith and money
Especially from the pulpit, money may be the most taboo subject in America, and yet the pastor who refuses to talk about money misses a great opportunity to teach the congregation the real meaning of stewardship. A very inspiring, well-thought-out essay from the Rev. William O. Avery in The Lutheran Laity Movement Archives.




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." In Dana Reardon's weekly reflection.



Faith Raising, Not Fund Raising
"Saddleback Community Church's 'next step' strategy of helping even the most disconnected individual take a step of faith in God’s direction, allows us to help guide anyone’s growth towards God’s intentions. Even in the difficult area of becoming a financially fit and faithful steward."  Insights from Saddleback Community Church on From the Recycling Bin.



It blows my mind: Six Points on Stewardship
In this Stewardship Sunday sermon based on 1 Cor. 8:1-15, Pastor Ed Marquart talks about how much God gives us, and how little we tend to give back. "Christ was never cheap.  Being a Christian is never cheap.  The cross is never cheap.  All the stories in the Bible about conversion and discipleship call for total commitment.  Christ asks to rule every part of your life and mine:  our hearts, our hands, our minds, our mouths, our feet, our everything, including our pocketbooks."



 Who do you believe really owns it all?

"My hunch is most Christians would agree with this statement: God owns it all. But will your estate plan reveal you believed it? Most of us approach estate planning with fear and trepidation, or we treat it as a necessary chore. But estate planning is nothing more than intentionally giving away whatever assets we have come to possess." Good reading from



Joke of the Week!

Weekly Gleanings, a sampling of articles with stewardship implications from the popular press.