April 10 - 16, 2006

 SOLI/Update

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Stewardship lessons for Holy Week

 

Let's take a deep breath, stewards, and for Holy Week put aside our congregational balance sheets, tables of giving and charts of weekly worship attendance. Lent is the penitential time when Christians take stock of their lives of faith and embrace anew the Holiness and Mystery of God. 

As Lent comes to a crescendo in Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and the Resurrection of Our Lord, Holy Week provides a time for all of us to reflect on what is really important and what we are really stewards of.

And it comes down to this: We are the inheritors and stewards of God's movement to intervene decisively in worldly affairs, to reconcile and save humanity and all of creation. We are stewards of the bold message that through the unlikely person of Jesus of Nazareth, a ragamuffin rabbi from a no account backwater of the Ancient Near East, God has come and announced the Good News for all people until the end of the Age.

The Good New: God is not a distant, disaffected entity hiding from us outside of our space and time. The Good News: God dwells with us always, God loves us despite our sinfulness. The Good News: God's greatest desire is to liberate us from the petty, dreary slavery of the sinful world that human beings have created and instead invite us to live in the joy, freedom, security and love of the Kingdom of God that is inbreaking whenever faithful people gather, worship, serve and pray in the name of God's son, Jesus. Jesus, through whom we have access to God, and through whom we are saved by grace through faith.

The world was hostile to that message 2,000 years ago when God's son was brought before a court on trumped-up charges and executed. And the world thought it had scored a complete victory, snuffing out the Good News once and for all. God had the last word, when God's son rose from the dead and declared God's triumph.

We are called to declare God's triumph anew. The churches we have built with bricks, the communities we have joined, the Christian service agencies we have created -- all those ministries we want to keep financially afloat  have but one objective: To declare God's triumph and tell the Good News to a world that is still hostile to it and too self-absorbed to listen.

So this Holy Week, take stock and remember that when we return to scrutinizing the balance sheets and the attendance records, we are primarily stewards of something more precious and sacred. And that's Good News, indeed.

--Rob Blezard, Webmaster and editor

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New This Week:

 

Environmental stewardship: Eco congregation
This is another gem of a program put together by our visionary Christian brothers and sisters from the United Kingdom. In this case, Churches Together collaborated on a comprehensive 12-module program for congregations to educate their parishioners about environmental stewardship AND to implement policies in their local church that would support it. Tons of good stuff! Click here for the main page. To view the modules, look on the navigation bar and click on "free resources."

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" Click here for this column from pastor Dana Reardon. Click here to read other columns from her archives.


The stewardship of prayer
Here's a great resource for teaching stewardship to children from the United Methodist Church. This one deals with prayer, but it's just one of continuing series of activities and ideas for exploring stewardship.  Click here for "The Stewardship of Prayer." Check out the others in the series, entitled Stewardship Nuggets for Families and Children -- all from the Center for Christian Stewardship of the United Methodist Church.

Down-to-Earth Theology
One of the most prophetic voices in American Christian thought, Sojourners magazine devotes its entire March 2004 issue to the environment. Every article is rich, provocative, passionate and faithful. Free access requires registration. Highlights:
Consider the Turtles of the Field - Many evangelicals find themselves in an emerging theological habitat, where care of creation is central to mission.
Rockfish, Redfish, Stockfish, Foodfish - Seven biblical principles for the care of creation.
To Serve and Preserve - The Bible calls us to dominion over creation. Or does it? 
Sins of Emission  - No politician seriously believes that Americans are willing to deal with global warming. Is it too late to prove them wrong?  By Bill McKibben. This week's Treasure Chest offering.