“Stewards: Taking care of the master’s vineyard.” By Fr. Eric S. Cooter
Back in the day, I was a retail associate buyer for a large national retail chain. I managed a specific portion of the resources, inventory, advertising, and multi-store selling space for this rather large corporation. The merchandise was not mine, the advertising investment was not mine, the stores were not mine, nor were the fixtures, signing, sales or profit. I knew that I was not the owner of all this stuff, but I still had to answer to, and I had ultimate accountability to the stockholders. I was in a sense, the steward of the stockholder’s investment. Even though I did not own it all, when I spoke to my suppliers or fellow associates, it was common for me to refer to all this stuff as “my product lines,” “my departments,” or “my staff,” but the reality was, none of it was “mine.”
Many of you may have had similar experiences in your careers. The idea of stewardship is not difficult to fathom, when we consider relationships like that of employee and employer. The concept sometimes becomes a little fuzzier when we think about stewardship in terms of what is ours and what is God’s? Many of us have no problem referring to the homes we live in, the families of which we are a part, the cars we drive, the time we have (the very breath we breathe), in terms of personal ownership. We have no problem naming each one of these (home, car, time, breath, or life) as “mine.” However, saying “mine,” begs the question, “is our lives our own?” Who is the source of our life; the very breath we take? As Christians, we confess that the God is the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of our lives. God is the ultimate stakeholder of all creation, and we as those created by God, are the stewards, the caretakers, the managers of all of God’s treasures. There is great responsibility that comes with being the stewards of God’s creation. The responsibility becomes clear to us, when we recognize that our very lives should be an offering to God.
Living our lives an offering to God is not about giving God “His fair share.” Offering ourselves to God is about living each day knowing that our gifts of time, our gifts of talent, and our gifts of treasure are ultimately God’s, and not individually our own. So, offering to God the gifts of time, talent and treasure for the work of God’s kingdom, should be based more on a response to our growing love and commitment to Christ, and less on a mathematical formulation for determining how much we give. Giving is always a matter of the heart. Our Lord taught, “Where your treasure is, so your heart will be also.”
Our treasure of time is overlooked sometimes when we consider an offering to God. How do we spend our days? Do we make time for prayer? Do we set aside specific time each day for loving God, for listening to God, for just being with God? Do we set aside time for growing closer to our Lord through study and reading scripture? Sometimes we can be caught up in scripture study, merely because it is “something that is a so-called expectation.” However, when we delve into the narratives of scripture, we come to know Our Lord in an intimate way. Joining with the saints before us, who read the narratives of the Gospels, the Epistles, and the Old Testament, we begin to have a better understanding of the character, the nature and the loving acts of God throughout history. This fall and throughout the rest of the year, there will be additional ways to grow closer to Christ, through some new education opportunities for all ages (youth and adults). As these opportunities present themselves, I encourage each of you to participate. Also, there will be opportunities for some folks to put their talents to good use, as study facilitators as well.
“Our lives as an offering to God” is our response to God’s grace as creator, redeemer, and sustainer of our lives. I encourage us all to consider and pray about how God is calling us to be stewards of God’s treasure in this community of St. David’s, and in the broader community in which we are called to serve.