February 14 - 20, 2005




The best valentine


In John 13:34, Jesus gave the disciples a new commandment: “Love one another.”


This week, stores displayed the usual gaudy assortment of silk red roses, huge heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, racks of red cards, heart-embroidered boxer shorts and slinky lingerie – all in celebration of love.


I don’t think this is what Jesus had in mind.


This year’s true celebration of love can be found in the nations surrounding the Indian Ocean, where Christians have been pouring their time, talents and treasures to help people devastated by the tsunami that struck the day after Christmas.


Getting precise figures is hard, since there are so many efforts and so many donations go unreported, as do in-kind contributions and volunteer work hours, but the value of donations by Christians certainly totals many tens of millions of dollars. (For details, check out the articles in this week’s Gleanings.)


The tsunami no longer makes the front pages of papers or the nightly broadcasts, but that doesn’t mean Christians have left the area. In fact, most churches are gearing up for the long-term – as churches always do.


"We were there before the tsunami, during the tsunami and we'll be there long after the tsunami," says Kathryn Sime, director of the ELCA World Hunger Appeal, quoted in this month’s editorial of The Lutheran magazine.



Editor David Miller, who recently returned from the region, explained one reason why he believes efforts to relieve suffering are so important.


“The church has never let me forget. It doesn't allow me to turn away. It reveals to me the face of Christ in the suffering of hidden multitudes and invites me, begs me, cajoles me to meet there the One to whom my soul clings — and to love him, to bind his wounds and care for his sorrow.”


Jesus said the world would know we are disciples by how much we love. Ministering to the suffering is the best valentine we can give the world.


--Rob Blezard, editor and webmaster


(P.S.: Want to make a donation to tsunami relief? Click here for details.)


New this week:

 So you're the new stewardship chair!

The stewardship resource pages of the Episcopal Church, USA, offer a great collection of basic "how-to" articles for congregations. Wonderful for new stewardship leaders, but veterans also can find many useful tips and reminders. Articles include, "Financial commitment programs that work," "Characteristics of an excellent stewardship program," and "Getting started." Click here to go to the menu page.

 Consume locally, think globally
"As Christians we know that we are not alone in this world and that what we have been given is not only for our use but rather for the whole people of God.  As we grow in awareness of how our choices impact others, we will begin to make wiser choices." Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.

Celebrating God's love

"When we think of Valentine's Day, we usually think of romantic love. However, it is an appropriate time to think also about God's love through Jesus Christ. The love that Jesus commanded us to show one another extends beyond 'warm fuzzies' and affection." Good reading from Janet Zimmerman, columnist for Center for Christian Stewardship., United Methodist church. Click here for Zimmerman's essay.



 The other giving
Time, talents and treasures comprise the list of gifts that good stewards give back to God, but many churches need to do a better job of teaching their members to contribute time and talents. Tuck Aaker, columnist for ELCA Stewardship Resources offers solid advice for congregational leaders. Click here to read Aaker's column.




A Steward's Take on the Apostle's Creed
In this classic paper by the noted late teacher and thinker, the Rev. Richard Peterman sees the Creed as a key to understanding stewardship as a faith discipline. "Stewardship is not a matter of 10 percent of my money, rather it's 100 percent of me." Click here for Peterman's essay. This week's Recycling Bin feature.