Rev’d Jonathan Gale
As I said in my Day One email, in the early Genesis account of creation God blesses humankind and gives them dominion over all of creation. From this derives our sense of responsibility for all things: in a word, stewardship.
Notice that God blesses them as a first step in the communication of their responsibility. In other words our care of creation is predicated upon the knowledge that God has and does bless us.
Hence stewardship has come to mean the way we curate our time, talents and resources – with gratitude. One meaning of the word curator is that it is a person who selects acts to perform at a music festival. This is a wonderfully active sense of the word. It well describes what we should be doing with our time, talents and resources; the commonly held elements of stewardship, namely, making use of them.
‘Investing’ them – unlike the man in the story Jesus told who was scared of his master, and, in order to play it safe, took the money entrusted to him and hid it so that he didn’t lose any.
What a privilege it is to make use of our time, talents and resources for God! God (who epitomises generosity) expects us to be the same, not small and grasping, but big and generous. As Paul tells the church in Corinth, (2 Corinthians 9: 7) Let each person do according as he has purposed in his heart: not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.
Giving ourselves to God is at the heart of worship.
Today we are speaking about how we, as one unit in the Body of Christ, (the Parish of St Peter’s, Takapuna) make use of the funds we have at our disposal. We are not speaking about personal giving. We’ll deal with that another time.
Penny, in her capacity as the Vicar’s Wardens, will now give us an indication of how Vestry makes use of the funds God has granted us.
STEWARDSHIP – A MINISTRY OF TIME, TALENTS AND RESOURCES
Christian stewardship is about the many gifts given to us by our gracious God. It helps us to reflect upon our blessings; all that we have that makes up our treasure – families, friends, time, talents, skills, material possessions and financial resources.
What we do with our time, our talents and our treasure is very much part of our relationship with God.
Just as a family cannot function well without the help of all of its members, so our parish family cannot function without help from all of its members, contributing of both our time and our treasure.
Time is a very precious gift. Many of us don’t feel that we have enough time for all the things we want to do. Everyone is given the same amount of time -24 hours each day, 168hours each week. The question is: how do we use our time?
Henry David Thoreau once said
“It is not enough to be busy, so are ants.
The question is what are we busy about?”
All of us have been blessed with various talents whether we are aware of it or not. Of course it is not always possible to develop and use all of our talents but ideally we can and should develop some of them and use them wisely to bless the communities we belong to.
In our parish and in our communities, we are more than richly blessed with people giving so generously of their time and their talents. Who we are is what we bring to the community.
Recently we were asked if we could help a young mum, with children at the Kindy, if we could help her get through a difficult time, perhaps with some meals. The call went out to the AAW and for several weeks meals appeared for *Jane and the children.
When I was preparing this presentation I asked Holly for some facts and figures to support what I was saying. Her response was this: “I wish the ladies knew how touched Jane has been with the ongoing meals for her family. And when all the donations poured in for the family in need, it was like the floodgates opened.
St Peter’s is a generous parish,, eager to give. You lot have taken me under your (many) wings and loved and supported me from when I was new and uncertain migrant to the bossy officious person I have become.”
Holly went on to say “It is easy to get caught up in numbers (congregants and dollars) and in the process lose sight of what you are – a warm community with a staggering amount of wisdom and life experience that you are happy to share. And my goodness, can you lot cook!”
One of the ways that people have given of their time and talents over the years has been to serve on Vestry and as parish wardens and when it comes to deciding how to best use the finances that we have, the buck stops there, to use a pun. According to the Diocesan statutes, it is the Vestry that has “control of all income, rents etc belonging to the church.”
At St Peter’s we are fortunate in having a Vestry, and particularly a treasurer who individually and collectively act wisely and responsibly in deciding not only how our finances are invested but also how the money is spent.
And here we come back to the idea of a family sitting down together to work out how they might spend their finances – their “treasure” in both the short term and the long term.
Next week Fay will talk about where our income comes from but today we are going to look at how we use the money that we have.
REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
BEYOND THE PARISH
According to the Diocesan statutes, all ministry units must pay first, all costs of stipends, housing and allowances for their clergy by making monthly contributions as determined by the Diocesan Council. All ministry units shall each month pay a sum to the Diocese to defray the general expenses of the Diocese.
So we provide our financial information and the Diocese calculates the contribution that our ministry unit, in other words, our parish must contribute.
Click here to see the stewardship booklet with pie charts.
A Stewardship Prayer
Generous and loving God
You call us to be disciples of your Son Jesus and good stewards of your many gifts.
Open our minds and hearts to a greater awareness and deeper appreciation of your countless blessings.
Transform us through the power of your Spirit to nurture a stewardship way of life marked by faith filled prayer, service to our neighbour and generous sharing.
Teach us to be faithful servants of your gifts, that with your help we may return ten-fold the gifts entrusted to us.
We pray through Christ our Lord