This past Sunday we had a visitor at church from out of town. We were kicking of stewardship season, a time when we talk about our financial giving to the church in preparation for the financial pledges we make for the coming year. The visitor was an Episcopalian, and no stranger to stewardship in the church. As he departed he said, “That was a good sermon, by the way…you know, for a stewardship sermon.”
I laughed heartily, and appreciated his honesty. I suspect he has heard many a stewardship sermon. As I thought about his feedback, I realized how separate “stewardship season” can feel from other times – how you can pinpoint a stewardship sermon from a regular sermon. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized stewardship sermons should feel more like the norm than the exception of October every year. Everything we do in church is tied to our financial giving. Our financial giving is simply the “so what?” of every experience we have in church.
This month we are in the midst of stewardship parties, having engaging conversations about our experiences and dreams for Hickory Neck. As a community, part of what we are hoping to help people realize is all that happens at Hickory Neck is tied to how we support our ministries with our treasure. The dreams we have for the work God has given us to do need not only our time and talent – they need our treasure; and not just any treasure, but a treasure that says, “This community and this work is important to me – so important that I will put my resources back into our work to the glory of God.”
This Sunday, we have a fantastic guest preacher coming. As I was preparing her for the services, I forewarned her that we would be in stewardship season, and she may want to consider that in her preparation. She quickly responded, “Oh that’s okay. Every sermon I preach is a stewardship sermon. You can’t hear the Gospel without a response!” I hope our guest preacher, our parties, our parishioner reflections, and the materials you have received are helping you consider how every week Jesus is asking for a response from you. Our work this month is connecting our passion for this place with our financial support of this place. I couldn’t be more excited to join you in that response!