Preaching on Stewardship- March 4, 2018

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Happy Monday! 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:

Sunday March 4, 2018: Revised Common Lectionary- The Third Sunday in Lent
First Lesson: Exodus 20:1-17
Psalm 19
Second Lesson: 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
Gospel of John 2:13-22

This week’s gospel story can be a hard story to reconcile, one where Jesus is seemingly mad and perhaps even violent. But on the other hand, it’s an example of Jesus standing up for what matters and trying to strongly redirect God’s children. It’s also a story about stewardship, ministry in action, and what really matters on our Lenten walk and journey.

One artist’s interpretation of Jesus turning over the tables in the Temple.

As we approach this story, I wonder, do we sometimes lose sight of why we do what we do? Do we get so caught up in our fundraising, service, volunteerism, activities, etc., that we lose sight of the bigger picture? Is our narthex full of things to sign up for, but little explanation of how that is (or isn’t) part of our calling as followers of Christ? How do we steward our time and resources, and how might we need to adjust these and re-prioritize?

I am wondering these questions, obviously because of this story:

“In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take those things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!’” (John 2:14-16, NRSV)

These questions that I offer above, could be starting places for us to think deeply in our faith community contexts about ministry in action. In what ways do we do ministry that could be better connected to the heart of worship? In what ways could we be more intentional and effective in telling the why or story behind these ministries?

The why and story could well be beautiful, but perhaps over time somethings have been taken for granted and the meaning or “why” behind something could be not widely known anymore. Alternatively, perhaps there are ample fundraisers for schools, benefits, sales of other kinds happening in your church building. If that’s the case, perhaps this week is a good week to reexamine ministry and congregational practices in light of ministry and stewardship?

If pondering these questions may not make sense in your context, then perhaps another stewardship tact you could take is to ponder, how do you steward relationships, especially when conflict might happen or need to happen? Because that seems to be what Jesus is inviting today with those who had been in the temple.

Whatever the questions you are wrestling with, whatever the direction that the Holy Spirit calls you in, may God’s love and challenge be made known to you and through you.

Sunday March 4, 2018: Narrative Lectionary- The Third Sunday in Lent
Narrative Theme for the Day: Peter’s Denial (Year 4, Week 26)
Focus Passages: John 18:12-27
Psalm 17:1-7

Inevitably we fall short, just like Peter does in this famous story as part of John’s passion narrative. In this season of Lent, perhaps more than other times we acknowledge our sin, brokenness, and need for God. What areas in life do you need to turn over to God? What are times where you wish you could go back and change things? And how can you give up those burdens you carry, and live into God’s gifts of grace and new life?

Perhaps this week, as you approach this text and Peter’s denial, you might open the door for some introspection. With naming these burdens, and confessing them, there is the hope that they can be turned over to God, and new life can be found in forgiveness and the freedom of no longer being weighed down by them.

However you approach this text, may brokenness and pain be named, but most importantly, may God’s love, grace, and promise be made known to and through you.

Image Credit: Jesus Turning Over the Tables

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