Every Monday I share a few tidbits, nuggets, or ideas for incorporating some stewardship themes in your preaching this week based on the appointed readings by the Revised Common Lectionary and Narrative Lectionary. Here are some stewardship nuggets for Pentecost Sunday.
With Pentecost, God gives the gift of the Holy Spirit. The gospel passage from John was included for most of you a few weeks earlier during the Easter season, so with that, you may well preach on the work of the Holy Spirit. That could be fun, but allow me to offer a few other ideas.
In stewardship thought, we like to talk about God entrusting to us our abilities, strengths, calls, resources, money, etc. The second lesson from 1 Corinthians 12, may be a good jumping off point for thinking about this, and how there are a variety of gifts and services, or perhaps “vocations.” In thinking of the Pentecost story from Acts, I am struck this week by verse 4, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them the ability” (Acts 2:4). This all happened as “the Spirit gave them the ability.” These things and abilities, are those which God has entrusted to them through the Holy Spirit.
This raises a number of questions, but perhaps put most humorously given the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this year, is this, “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:12)
When Jesus and God say, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” they are opening us up to a new level of relationship, to new depth of calls, and purpose. How do we steward that which we are entrusted with? How do we steward our lives in such a way that we allow ourselves to discern and follow the Spirit’s moving?
There is another stewardship opportunity this week too. Psalm 104 is rich with stewardship ideas and language. A couple verses in particular are favorites. First, “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures” (Psalm 104:24). This underscores the reality that everything in the earth is made by God, but also everything is God’s, as “the earth is full of your creatures.” There is also an element of relationship with this. “These all look to you to give them their food in due season; when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things” (Psalm 104:27-28). God is in relationship with God’s creation, and provides.
Today God entrusts to us the Holy Spirit. How might this be an example or a starting place of a life full of God filling us with good things?
In thinking of the Pentecost story from Acts, I am struck this week especially by verse 4, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them the ability” (Acts 2:4). This all happened as “the Spirit gave them the ability.” These things and abilities, are those which God has entrusted to them through the Holy Spirit.
God entrusts these things through the Holy Spirit because God chooses to be in relationship with God’s creation, and because God has promised to be in relationship. As Paul writes in the Galatians passage appointed for today, “So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God” (Galatians 4:7). There is a lot of depth in this relatively short passage, but a good stewardship sermon might think about how God has made us heirs of the promise. God does this as a pure gift. So how do we steward these promises of God? How do we share them? And how do we live in light of them? What is our joyful response knowing that we are a Child of God, and an heir of God’s promises?
A good Pentecost answer might be that we “make room for the Holy Spirit.” We let God be God, and we intentionally listen, focus, and follow where God through the Holy Spirit might be leading.
Do we make room to follow the blowing and leading of the Holy Spirit? And if so, what crazy adventures might that lead us on? Where might we go? What might we do? What might God do through us? What might God continue to do for us?
Pentecost Blessings friends! -TS
Image Credit: “Pentecost: True Spiritual Unity and Fellowship in the Holy Spirit,” Rebecca Brogan, http://www.jtbarts.com, found here: https://jtbarts.com/gallery/john-the-baptist-artworks-series-2/pentecost-true-spiritual-unity-and-fellowship-in-the-holy-spirit/.