October 8 - 14 , 2007



Bumper-sticker stewardship

There's a bumper sticker that always gives me both a chuckle and an "uh ha!" moment.  I saw it again this past week: "Tithe if you love Jesus. Anyone can honk!"

The sentiment is especially appropriate in the current lectionary year, Year C, which emphasizes the Gospel of Luke. More than the other Gospel writers, Luke lifts up two intertwined ideas as the very keys to faithful discipleship: Our relationship to our wealth and our relationship with our neighbor.

Time and again Luke tells us that one cannot be a disciple and be possessed by greed and selfishness -- attitudes that make us aloof and indifferent to needy neighbors.

The Sept. 30 Gospel text (Luke 16:19-30) about Dives and Lazarus illustrates the point well. Whatever other sins Dives may have committed we do not know, but in Hades he is condemned for the specific sin of living in luxury while ignoring Lazarus begging at his gates.

Attitudes about money, correct relationship with neighbors. In Luke they go together and present a very high bar that must be hurdled for a mere follower to become a disciple. Luke says so explicitly in 14:25-33 (the Gospel for Sept. 9), which begins with a description of the multitudes that are following Jesus. As if to winnow the nominal believers from the strong, Jesus outlines one harsh condition after another, ending with, "None of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions." 

Seen in that context, the bumper sticker seems downright reasonable: "Tithe if you love Jesus. Anyone can honk!"
--Rob Blezard, editor and webmaster
(Reprint rights gladly given to congregations for local nonprofit use. Just include this notice: "Copyright (c) 2007 The Rev. Robert Blezard, archive.stewardshipoflife.org. Used by permission." Inquire about other rights.)

New This Week
Stewardship Q & A
Rockville CenterChurch leaders know that parishioners have questions. Maybe your folks are asking them. What’s the difference between stewardship and tithing? What difference will stewardship make in my life? This handy resource answers some of the most basic questions. Click here for “Stewardship Q & A,” from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y.

2007 Tithing Program
AntiochianHow to teach your congregation about tithing? This denomination began with a letter and followed it up with weekly bulletin inserts over several months. It’s a great idea, and the documents on the website can guide and inspire your own church in devising a campaign. Click here for “2007 Tithing Program,” from the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Diocese of North America.

Bring ‘em in, build ‘em up, send ‘em out
Tuck AakerAlthough Mainline churches as a whole are languishing, some congregations are growing steadily. What gives? Stewardship columnist Tuck Aaker says that often, their pastors and leaders have found innovative ways to reach the unchurched, plug them into church life and send them out again. Click here for “Bring ‘em in, build ‘em up, send ‘em out,” from ELCA Stewardship Resources.

Stewardship sermon: ‘The Land of Enough
UUAEverywhere we turn, our culture tells us we live in “the Land of Not Enough.” But there’s a different destination for people of faith, explored in this 2006 Stewardship Sermon Award Winner. Click here for “The Land of Enough,” from the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Stewardship from the Lectionary
Your ChurchLooking for a way to put more stewardship into your preaching? Here is a great help -- a weekly commentary that highlights stewardship aspects in the weekly lectionary texts. Click here for "Stewardship from the Lectionary," from ELCA Stewardship Resources.