Sunday, November 12, 2006

Lectionary - Stewardship Sunday

Mark 12:44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-all she had to live on."

It's no coincidence that this Scripture appears in the lectionary on the Sunday that most of us celebrate Stewardship Sunday. Out of all of the Sundays in the year, this is perhaps the hardest one to preach. No pastor that I know likes to talk about money, and when we use the pulpit to make challenges about giving, some people think, unfairly, that we are meddling in their lives and preaching "money,money,money" all of the time.

During all my years at seminary, I never once heard a professor or teacher do a series on Stewardship. And yet, this is one of the most important issues that we are facing today. If you don't thinks so, just have a look at the financial shortfalls that our own denomination is experiencing. The amount of people and congregations that are presently disenchanted with the PC(USA) has reached critical proportions. Local churches are more into designating their giving more than ever, and even individuals are earmarking their offerings for missions rather than ministry.

But what's all of this got to do with the widow's mite? It's this. She never selfishly designated what she gave to a particular mission for widows or orphaned children. She gave everything that she had to the common good. Perhaps this is the lesson that we need to be broadcasting from our pulpits. When we give, we give purely to the Lord. If we designate it, then we are giving to an idol of our own choosing.

Prayer: Lord, on this Stewardship Sunday, help us to give up control of what we give to You. Teach us to give in faith, which places no boundaries on our offerings but rather trusts Your Spirit to work for the common good throughout the church. In Your Holy Name, we freely give and faithfully pray. Amen.

Stushie is the writer of Heaven's Highway Blog and host of the weekly Seven Days religious radio show.

1 comment:

John Shuck said...

I am all for preaching about stewardship. I preached on stewardship yesterday.

I have heard many sermons about the widow giving her last two cents as a model or inspiration for giving to the church. I don't think that is the point of the text. The text is pointing out the corruption of the temple that rips off widows. She shouldn't be giving her last two cents to the temple. The temple should be caring for her! This is a desperate woman who models the desperation of the poor in Jesus's time. The widow spends her last buck on a lottery ticket hoping for a big prize from God that isn't coming. Rather than use this text as an incentive to give to the church, I use it as a text to expose inequality and injustice within our nstitutions (including the church).