Every Monday I share a few tidbits, nuggets, or ideas for incorporating some stewardship themes in your preaching. This week’s stewardship nuggets based on the appointed readings by the Revised Common Lectionary and Narrative Lectionary are as follows:
The summer is an excellent time to think about stewardship of life. Are you living life abundantly or frantically feeling like you never have enough time? Perhaps this week’s gospel would be a good jumping off point for thinking and preaching about one’s stewardship of time. It could also be a good reminder of the peace, comfort, and rest that we can find in God and that God provides and promises. And in being remind of these promises, perhaps abundant life is about contentment, and living in God’s love and mystery.
I am drawn this week, like I suspect most preachers to the last portion of the appointed gospel passage. Jesus says,
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30, NRSV.
There is richness in these three verses for putting what matters into perspective, and I would argue for thinking about how you are stewarding your time. What are you doing with it? How are you prioritizing and making those decisions? Are you living abundantly, or running around feeling the effects of the scarcity of time, the shortening of daylight already, or like fictional character Jack Bauer, a perpetual feeling like “you are running out of time?”
Obviously, there is more in the gospel passage for this weekend, but for stewardship purposes, I think I would focus on the final three verses.
In thinking about the other passages appointed for this weekend, Psalm 145 pairs well with the gospel, and is a rich passage for stewardship. The appointed passage begins in verse 8, “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Ps 145:8). It is out of God’s love, that God wants you to live life fully and abundantly. The psalm continues, “The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made” (Ps 145:9). This a reminder of God’s relationship and the limitless depths to which God’s love and compassion goes.
This psalm of praise continues with the idea of giving thanks (Ps 145:10), it gives voice to the idea that we have been entrusted to tell the story of God’s love in action (Ps 145:11-12), and this passage at least concludes with a reminder of God’s presence and promises for us (Ps 145:13-14).
Zechariah could also prove fruitful from a stewardship perspective if focusing around the call to “rejoice,” and the ideas of restoration and promise which are covered in the appointed passage from Zechariah 9:9-12.
My big question then for stewardship this weekend rests on the idea of abundance, and are you living life abundantly? If so, rejoice! If not, then how can we together discern what God’s peace, rest, and comfort might look like for you in a life of abundance or contentment? Please know that I am not trying to advocate though for closing off the concerns that we are all facing in daily life. But rather, how can we face these trials and injustices with God? This might mean having to also think about what it means to work for justice, and God’s justice which the reading from Zechariah alludes to. All of these pieces are parts of what it means to live a life as a steward of God’s love.
This weekend we conclude the five-week summer Narrative series on the Psalms. Fittingly, we close with the final Psalm, Psalm 150. It is six verses of pure praise and joy. In fact, by my count the word “praise,” appears 13 times in these six verses, meaning at least twice per verse on average.
How do you give praise? This Psalm is all about the idea of a joyful response to the Lord, for all that the Lord has done (and continues to do, and will do). It’s one of my favorites because of its simplicity, repetitive beauty, and especially as a musician, because of its musical imagery.
“Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with clanging cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!” – Psalm 150:3-5
Perhaps today could be a day in your congregation or community that you tell stories of how and why you celebrate, worship, and rejoice the way you do? Or, you could incorporate a story about someone in your midst, and why they serve faithfully and joyfully in a life of praise in their vocation?
The gospel verse is a small portion of the story in the Gospel of John where Jesus reveals himself as the Messiah to the Samaritan Woman, saying “I am he…” (John 4:26).
This is something that we give praise and thanks for, and perhaps that’s all we can do. So, what does our praise look and sound like? What does it feel like? How do we live a life of praise? All good stewardship questions to ponder this week.
Whatever direction you feel led to preach this week, may God’s love, presence, and comfort guide you and be with you in your ministry! -TS