I was just looking at the Mission and Service Goal-Setting form for St. Andrew’s and remembered some of my past thoughts on stewardship.
One is a misunderstanding many people have about giving. When we give to family, these are not true gifts as our family members are part of us, and it is a bit like transferring from one pocket to another.
When we make donations to our church, these donations can make a great and positive difference in the world. But they are more like an exchange than a gift. We give to the church and it provides us with some of what we seek and need: worship services, pastoral care, programs, and events.
Our donations, charitable as they are, to organizations for which we have a connection, like those fighting diseases that have touched our lives, are also more like an exchange. For example, we give our used beverage containers (cans and bottles and tetrapacs) to Vecova which uses the funds for programs for people with handicaps. Since they save us the trouble of taking them to a bottle depot, our donations are really just an exchange.
It is when we make donations to individuals and organizations that have no direct connection, that we are truly offering gifts. This is the kind of stewardship pointed to by Jesus in Luke 6:35-36 when he said, “Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never — I promise– regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at a our worst. Our Father is kind: you be kind.” (the Message Bible)
The Mission and Service Fund is a way for us to give to people who have nothing to give us in return, an opportunity for us to participate in sharing God’s generosity in a way that serves the coming of God’s kingdom in this world. Our gifts to the M&S Fund are an indicator of the freedom we have to do with our resources as we wish, a stewardship of faith in God and feeling of spirit. Thanks be to God.