July 14 - 20, 2008



Vacation stewardship lessons

I recently spent a week sleeping on an army style cot in a drafty 6- by 8-foot tent in the middle of a Boy Scout Camp. And loved it!  I had a backpack with enough clothes to last me a week (as long as I wore most things twice), a devotional book and a crime novel. As I drifted off to sleep to the sounds of the owls, the night insects and the hushed conversations around the campfire, I thought, "What more do I need?"

Though it's not everyone's cup of tea, rugged camping provides an experience of liberation from the myth that we need to be continually surrounded with creature comforts to be happy. Or even to exist! Many people are so attached to their possessions that they don't even challenge this falsity. Living without can teach us much, as Henry David Thoreau found out when he spent two years living in a Spartan cabin at Walden Pond in Concord,  Massachusetts. In his classic book "Walden," writes of his quest:

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

In the chapter entitled "Economy," Thoreau observes emptiness in the lives of people for whom money and possessions are their chief life goal: "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. ... A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind."
Thoreau's insights ring all the more true 154 years after "Walden" was published. Consider how the microchip and Internet have enabled the game, amusement and entertainment industries to mushroom in the last 10 years. Have these grown because of our deep-seated despair over the meaninglessness of our lives? Certainly that is a part.

For me, living in a tent without plumbing or electricity for a week helps me understand just how much I really own, and how much of it I really don't need -- however much I want and like it. The awareness is priceless.  "What more do I need?"

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

New This Week:

UMCA Personal Spending Plan
“A personal spending plan is a fundamental tool that enables individuals to control money rather than to be controlled by it! A spending plan further enables people to help reach their financial goals and live out their values and priorities.” That’s the good ness. The bad news is that less than half of all people have such plans, says this fine essay, which suggests ways to help. Click here for “A Personal Spending Plan,” from the United Methodist Church’s Center for Christian Stewardship.

Sharron LucasStewardship and Stone Pillow Slumber
“When we humans recognize God’s divine activity in our lives, when we understand God’s radical grace and mercy in the face of our sinful nature, then a response follows.” Click here for “Stewardship and Stone Pillow Slumber,” the latest essay from SOLI columnist Pastor Sharron R. Lucas. Click here to read some of Pastor Lucas’ archived columns.

LifewayGenerous Stewardship
“Among adults who attend church regularly (an average of at least once a month), more than one out of every three (37 percent) did not give any money to church in the past year.”  How to change these attitudes? That’s the big question. Read on for some ideas. Click here for Generous Stewardship, posted on LifeWay.

Tuck AakerYour Net Worth
Debt is crippling the lives of many of our parishioners, says stewardship columnist Tuck Aaker. “As the spiritual advisors of our people, we need to address and help those who are having financial challenges in their lives and try to guide them out of the darkness and into the light of a new way.” Click here for “Your Net Worth,” from ELCA Stewardship Resources.

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.

smileJoke of the Week!