stew•ard n. 1. One who manages another’s property, finances, or other affairs.

Posted by on Aug 8, 2013 in Blog

stew•ard n. 1. One who manages another’s property, finances, or other affairs.

Stewardship. It’s one of those words that can either mean so little, or mean so much. It’s an odd word, kind of an antiquated and “churchy” word. But the idea behind that word can go right to the heart of who we are as people. Now normally, I’m guessing when you hear “stewardship” you think, “giving money to the church”. And yet, while giving monetarily is how the term “stewardship” is usually understood, I personally feel that stewardship of time and work is more important than any financial giving. A small definition of financial giving relegates stewardship to just a small corner of our lives Stewardship is ultimately more than how much money you give to the church. It is also how you spend all of your money. It is more than giving your time or work to the church. It is also how you spend all of your time and work. Stewardship is an all-encompassing reality. I have slowly begun to see everything in life, from my money to my environment to my body to my very soul as a gift from God. And if everything is a gift, and stewardship involves how we use God’s gifts, then stewardship involves how we use everything. Stewardship can be broadened to include physical fitness, what we eat, where we shop, where we go on vacation, how much TV we watch, what careers we go into, everything. However, it is difficult to break out into the fullness of this understanding of stewardship. There is simply too much built up behind the definition of stewardship as the giving of money. It seems like every time we talk about stewardship, even in conversations that do address all areas of life, the “giving money” aspect somehow stands out a little more, takes a little more prominence. I know that I certainly project my limited practical understanding of stewardship onto all of my interactions with the term. You see, money is the primary way of giving value to something in our culture. If someone hurts you, the courts can make them pay you money. We rank people based on their net worth and we idolize those at the top. We look at our bank accounts to judge how well we’re doing in life. But you know what? One of the blessings of the Christian Gospel is that we do not receive our value based on money. This is a key counter-cultural issue for Jesus. Just open up the Gospels and chances are you’ll find him talking about the dangers of money, rather than its blessings. Can we as a community follow Jesus down this path, and come to see stewardship as something more than just financial giving?...

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To Whom am I a Neighbor?

Posted by on Jul 17, 2013 in Sermons

To Whom am I a Neighbor?

Sermon by guest preacher Mercy Carkuff. Luke 10:25-37 25Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  26He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”  27He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”  28And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” 29But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  30Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.  31Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  32So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  33But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.  34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  35The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’  36Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”  37He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” Colossians 1:1–14 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. 3In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  4for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints,  5because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel  6that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God.  7This you learned from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf,  8and he has made known to us your love in the Spirit. 9For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased...

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Deep Deep Down

Posted by on Jul 3, 2013 in Blog

Deep Deep Down

God has revealed these things to us through the Spirit. The Spirit searches everything, including the depths of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:10             At some point in my college experience, I encountered the thought of a man named Paul Tillich. Tillich changed a lot about the way I think about and recognize God in my life; or rather I shouldn’t say “changed” so much as “took the words right out of my mouth” or “finally put words to the way I felt”. One of the biggest things Tillich did was to say that it was alright to stop thinking about God as “up there” somewhere. God isn’t up beyond the clouds, hanging out in outer space somewhere. That old way of looking at creation as a three-part universe with Earth in the middle, Hell underneath, and Heaven above is dead. But if God isn’t “up there” somewhere, then is there a God at all? “OF COURSE THERE IS!” Tillich says.             God is depth. God isn’t up. God is deep. God resides in the deep places of life and human experience, where words lose their ability to describe a reality too big for them. We all have experiences of this. We all know the tragedy of being “shallow” or “superficial”. I think it’s safe to say we all share a desire for and respect for integrity and depth. God is this depth, this quality, this truth of life. Jesus shows us the depths of God when he takes to that cross for us, when he enters into the depths of human sorrow and tragedy. Jesus does this to show us that it is in these depths when we are closest to God, because God loves us and cares for us deeply.             “So what, Pastor? So you’ve replaced the word “up” with “deep”, what’s the big deal?” It’s a huge deal, dear people. This somewhat simple change of language can transform how you think about and experience God in your own life. Suddenly, God is not some distant super-being, but the delicious mystery at the center of our very lives.             God is deep. And when we know the truth of God as something “deep” and not something “up” then we also can stop measuring the success of our lives on numbers that go “up” and start measuring success on qualities that go “deep”. Here’s one example: we all know that tired but true phrase “Money can’t buy happiness.” There is truth in that happiness is not based on the height of your wealth but the depth of your relationships with other people and with the world around you.             And what of the success of the Church or of our congregations? Again, when we train our eyes for depth we see that true success in a congregation is not measured by the...

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Galatians Part V: Freedom

Posted by on Jul 1, 2013 in Sermons

Galatians Part V: Freedom

Galatians 5:1, 13–25 For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions,envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the...

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