stewardship

1 Timothy 6:6-19 - "Founded for Good Works in 1870"

Synopsis: We conclude our Stewardship Campaign with these words from these words traditionally attributed to Paul writing to his young protege, Timothy. Since her beginnings, the Church has always been a people of not only prayer and faith, but also action and good works. Paul tells young Timothy to remind his people that their security will not be founded on the accumulation of wealth and worldly security, but in lives filled with generosity, commitment, and acts of compassion and kindness for neighbors and enemies alike. This counter-cultural way of Jesus invites us into an abundant life founded for good on the life of Christ and the love of the Triune God.

Keywords: Jesus, Trinity, good works, hands and feet of Christ, stewardship, firm foundation, compassion, justice, joy, love

Luke 16:1-13 - "Founded for Good Risk in 1870"

Synopsis: High rewards demand high risk. Jesus tells this parable of the shrewd manager who risks life, limb, and livelihood to secure for himself a future when his prospects looked bleak. Because of this risk, he was rewarded greatly. This problematic parable sits strange in our souls because the protagonist is a cheat and a liar, but Jesus message is clear as day: you have to risk something big for something good. As we reflect on our past and dream about our future, what are the bold risks God is inviting you to consider in your life and in our life as a church family?

Keywords: Jesus, shrewd, courage, wisdom, risk, security, stewardship, gamble, challenge, bold, brave, love, vision

Luke 15:1-10 - “Founded for Good News in 1870”

Synopsis: Broadway was built for sharing Good News of great joy. For almost 150 years, we have broken bread, tended souls, and welcomed in strangers who become family as we grow together in wisdom and courage. Jesus didn’t discriminate between his dinner dates. He broke bread with Pharisees, Tax Collectors, and those who ached under the weight of poverty and oppression. The offense of the religious leaders inspires Jesus to tell them a parable of a shepherd searching for lost sheep and a woman searching for her lost coin. The experience of lostness and loneliness, of hopelessness and desperation, are universal human experiences, and God invites us to join in the rescue mission of bringing light and love to all people and places.

Keywords: Jesus, love, hope, welcome, inclusion, mission, wonder, stewardship, generosity, invitation

Luke 14:25-33 - "Founded for Good Dreams in 1870"

Synopsis: Dreaming is difficult, but necessary work. When we give ourselves the chance to dream and imagine future possibilities, we open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit and the opportunity to dream God’s dreams for our lives. But, the real work comes when we begin to make those dreams into a reality. Jesus tells this parable to illustrate discipleship, because following Christ requires preparation, planning, and pledging yourself to finish the task you start. Together, we begin this stewardship campaign looking into the future and dreaming God’s dreams as we count the cost of discipleship.

Keywords: Jesus, kingdom of God, dreams, vision, hope, wonder, stewardship, generosity, commitment, cost of discipleship

Luke 12:13-21 - "Stories Jesus Tells: Hearses Don't Have Hitches

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Synopsis: Jesus tells this parable to settle a family dispute where one brother believes he isn’t getting the fair share of the family fortune. The man in the parable is not chastised for planning for the future or even for relaxing, eating, drinking, and being merry. He is a fool for failing to see that salvation and security are not for sale, but gifts of grace discovered through our generosity. Ken Chafin once said, “I never saw a hearse pulling a U-Haul on a trailer hitch, because you can’t take it with you.” True joy lies in sharing, not hoarding.

Keywords: Parables, generosity, joy, life abundant, greed, fear, isolation, security, love, community, family systems theory, sharing, stewardship

“A Worthy Investment” - John 12:1-8

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Mary pours a ridiculously expensive perfume on Jesus as an act of love, devotion, and preparation for his imminent death. Judas, who John does not give any grace, grumbles about how she should have sold it and given the proceeds away to the poor (with the possibility that Judas wanted to take a cut). Jesus speaks the cringe-worthy words which have justified so many careless, callous Christians to ignore the God-given social contract of care for the poor. Jesus, who reads the Isaiah scroll declaring himself to be a champion for the marginalized, honors Mary’s gift and shames Judas, because there will always be more work to do, more care to give, more needs to meet, and more justice to seek. Life is not just about doing or accomplishing or fixing, but also about resting in the lavish love and peace of God. Sabbath means we work six days and then we rest, and Judas tried to embarrass Mary by taking the seventh day to celebrate that Jesus was still with them, even if only for a little while longer. The broader way of Lent is not just about suffering and self-denials but also taking the opportunity to soak in Christ’s love and presence in extravagant ways.

Art by Julia Stankova of Bulgaria