January 21 - 27, 2008



Stewardship lessons of the Depression

Today I visited with one of my at-home parishioners -- an 84-year-old woman whose memories of living through the Great Depression are as vivid as this past Christmas.

"Things were bad," she said solemnly. "People were eating out of garbage cans." Her own family managed, barely, to keep food on the table. She recalls a steady diet of bland meals that her mother made on a shoestring budget, but they were grateful just to eat. The deprivation she witnessed in the Depression taught her the economic lessons that mark many of her generation:

--The value of hard work and a decent job -- any honest, decent job..
--The blessings of good food, adequate clothing and a house that is affordable, safe, warm and dry. 
--The frivolousness of luxury.
--The folly of debt.
--The joy of generosity.
--The preciousness of loving family and friends.

These are the very lessons lost on succeeding generations, including mine (I'm a Baby Boomer -- born in the 50s). Instead of a sense of gratitude, we have a sense of entitlement, and instead of nest eggs we have maxed-out credit cards, an array of glitzy electronic devices that will be obsolete next year, and enormous homes whose mortgage payments are ballooning out of reach.

These thoughts came to mind after meeting with the parishioner and then hearing on the news more gloom and doom about the recession that is threatening our economic stability. I found myself looking at my house, possessions and budget, wondering where I would cut if things got bad. And you know what? There was quite a bit I could do without. It taught me that I'm really not such a good steward, after all -- from the clothes I no longer need to the four computers (sad but true) that I have in my house, from the $50 a month cable TV bill and the $30 DSL line. I could get by on much less.

And that's the realization that leads to living more simply. Get rid of the excess. Interested? Check out the website, Christian Simple Living, listed below for inspiration. We get rid of a lot of the nonessential stuff that, in the end, is a waste of money and a distraction to our lives. It enables us to focus on what's really important in life, to value the everyday blessings for what they are.

And the bonus of living simply is that we don't have to wait for economic crisis to teach us the hard way that we have a lot to be grateful for. Sign me up!

-Rob Blezard, webmaster and editor
(Reprint rights gladly granted to congregations for nonprofit, local use. Just include this notice: "Copyright (c) 2008, the Rev. Robert Blezard, archive.stewardshipoflife.org. Used by permission.")

New This Week:

CRGFaith and Money
Here’s an extremely concise and authoritative resource that pulls together a lot of stewardship concepts and plans. Put together by Dan Hotchkiss, a senior consultant for the respected Alban Institute, Faith and Money provides in-depth background that help provide firm ground for your congregation’s stewardship efforts. Click here for “Faith and Money,” from the Congregational Resource Guide.

The Corrosion of Consumerism
Yur ChurchPeople may be coming to your church, but are they coming as disciples or consumers? “The ‘consuming’ church springs from the soil of American culture. In contrast, the ‘transforming’ church grows out of the transforming energy of God's creativity.” Interesting observations! Click here for “The Corrosion of Consumerism,” from Your Church magazine.

Website: Christian Simple Living
“Living Simply … as Christ Intended.” That bold motto greets visitors to the home page of this countercultural website. It’s counter to our prevailing culture that lifts up consumption as the highest value. Inspirational, daring and challenging, this website is a must for those who want to push the stewardship envelope. Click here for Christian Simple Living.