January Stewardship Thoughts & Resources For You!

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January 2018
Faith Simonieg,
Assistant to the Bishop for Stewardship and Generosity

“Road to Emmaus”, Luke 24:13-35
In the story, we are only hours removed from the stone being rolled away and tomb being opened. And two disciples are on a walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus- about seven miles. On the walk, these two men are unknowingly joined by Jesus. As they walk, they are fighting off despair and make sense of their changed world while God became present with them. He invited them into a deep conversation. He invited them to share their story. Through conversation, teaching and the breaking of bread, he opened their eyes. He connected their hearts, minds and eyes- in a sense, they were opened to all that they are.

When have your eyes been opened to God working in your midst? Have your eyes been opened to new possibilities? Has a story of ministry in action opened your eyes to see God at work in the world through others? It’s God’s work that opened your eyes and this is stewardship.

Stewardship is not about money, it’s about the decisions you make regarding all the resources God has entrusted to you. Stewardship is about responding to the question: what will you do because of that God has done, will do and continue to do for you?

Thoughtful communication and education will develop a deeper awareness in the congregation you serve and open eyes to see all that God is up to in our midst.

Here are some resources to help you:

Bulletin Blurbs: put a stewardship bulletin blurb in your weekly bulletin. Just cut and paste. It’s from the week’s Revised Common Lectionary lessons, followed by a brief reflection.

January 7, 2018 (Baptism of the Lord)
Genesis 1:1-2: “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.”

Where do we come from? For that matter, where did anything come from? These first two verses of the whole Bible remind us that God created all that was, all that is, and all that will be. God made it all, even us, and everything belongs to God. That’s the first rule of stewardship.

January 14, 2018 (2nd Sunday after the Epiphany)
1 Samuel 3:10 –Now the LORD came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

God calls us all – all of us, without exception. The question is, are we paying attention, able to hear God’s voice amid the clamoring din of the world’s many competing voices. In order to be a good steward,

servant, or disciple, we have to be paying attention so that when God calls us we can reply, as Samuel did, “Speak, for your servant is listening!”

January 21, 2018 (3rd Sunday after the Epiphany)
Mark 1:17-18 –And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately Simon and Andrew left their nets and followed him.”

What is you here for, and how what are you doing? Those ARE the questions for steward disciples. When Jesus invites Simon and Andrew to follow him, pursue a life of purpose and strength and “fish for people,” they drop their nets and go. What nets do you need to drop to follow Jesus’ invitation?

January 28, 2018 (4th Sunday after the Epiphany)
Psalm 111:1 –Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart!

What can we do to open the way for God to transform us into more-faithful steward disciples? Praise and thanksgiving are key! As you go through your day, keep these two phrases in your heart and on your lips: “Praise be to God!” “Thanks be to God!” Think of them and say them often. Then see what God can do with you.

Newsletter Article: Publish something every month on stewardship, money and faith.

A Visit with Vincent – Generosity Changes Everything
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14.

Vincent and his wife worked hard on their farm, saving carefully for retirement. They loved their church and in addition to their congregation, they shared with numerous charities throughout their lifetimes. Thankful for the many ways God blessed them, they shared abundantly and lived a life of contentment. By sharing what God had entrusted to them to help others, they created a legacy of generosity. Toward the end of his life, Vincent asked his pastor, “Pastor, are other people sharing the way my wife and I have? Can you use my example of giving to open their hearts to give? So that they too may know the joy of generosity?”

Thankfulness, happiness and contentment interact, but gratitude holds the key. Develop gratitude, then happiness and contentment follow. It doesn’t work the other way around. With prayer, devotion and simple exercises, the Holy Spirit will lead you to deeper spiritual maturity and more happiness. Here are some ideas for you and your family.

· Pray daily. Ask God to give you a greater sense of thankfulness. And then thank God for all the day’s blessings.

· Chart thankfulness. On a big wall calendar mark one thing for which you’re thankful to God. Invite other family members to do the same. When you get in the habit of looking for them, you will find blessings everywhere.

· Keep a “blessing list.” Write down the things you are grateful for. Then as you say your nighttime and morning devotions, pray over the list: “God, I’m thankful for this, and I’m thankful for that.” Revise the list as needed.

· Send out thank-you notes. Buy a box of inexpensive thank you notes and send one every week. Go deep, thanking not only the folks who have given you a present or done a favor for you, but also those whose love, support, friendship, laughter, energy or presence are important to you.

· Make a “thank offering.” Express gratitude in a tangible way by contributing to your congregation or favorite church cause. Make the donation “just because,” or in honor or memory of a loved one, or on the occasion of a special event or blessing in your life.

Adopt one or more of these exercises as a spiritual discipline and, with God’s help, you will develop the attitude of gratitude that will bring more satisfaction, greater happiness, spiritual depth and emotional maturity to your life. Blessings for 2018.

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