Noun st(y)ōōǝrd Ship.
The dictionary says, “the job of supervising or taking care of something, such as an organization or property.” One theological description says, “stewardship is a theological belief that humans are responsible for the world and should take care of it. Believers in stewardship are usually people who believe in one God who created the universe and all that is within it, also believing that they must take care of creation look after it.”
We are, again, in the midst of ‘Stewardship’ at Parkway. It happens each year and we all know that towards the end of the year means talking about ‘Stewardship.’ We know it means that we are going to pledge a certain dollar amount that we are committing to give to the church over the course of the next year. We have Stewardship Speakers on Sunday mornings and letters that go out to the congregation reminding us all of what our pledges will do for the church and how important they are.
Recently, one of our young people asked me, “What is this Stewardship thing and why is it giving money?” So, we looked it up and talked about it. And this young person then said, “Well, I don’t have any money to give every Sunday, but I can do some stuff to help.” And then after talking about ways to help out around the church, this same young one said, “Well, in Jesus’s time, not everyone had money to give, so did they just help and do stuff too?” Yes, yes they did. When Jesus was going about his travels and teaching people all the things he was teaching, many people ‘helped’ by spreading the teachings of Jesus and the goodness that comes with learning new things. Things and ideals and beliefs that we still practice today based on the teachings of Jesus. Not just when we are at church or participating in church activities, but in our every day life, at our jobs, at school, out in public, at social events—always—it’s who we are.
When we were looking up stewardship, we looked at many different ideas that popped up, “What does a steward do?” “What does good stewardship mean?” “Why is stewardship important?” “What is a stewardship program?” “What is the concept of stewardship?” There were a lot more, but each one of these questions had a short one to two sentence answer and in each one of them the words “taking care of” were there.
At Parkway we take care of a lot of things. And yes, we need some money to do it. We pay our minister to teach us about scripture in the bible and how it impacts what we do in our lives. We pay her to take care of our sick and elderly, console and pray with those that need help and guidance, and bring us fresh ideas about what is happening in the greater UCC. We need to pay for water, electricity, gas, and building maintenance to help us with the ministry of housing the homeless so they have a safe place to stay, to provide a space for our boards and committees to meet and decide the ministries in our neighborhood and how we can be a part of them, to give families a peaceful place to remember someone who has passed and to say good bye. Included in these things that we need to pay for, is our time and effort as stewards to make all of these things happen. We volunteer the time to house the homeless by setting up comfortable rooms and cooking meals so they aren’t hungry. We volunteer time to help a family have a luncheon after a memorial service. We volunteer time to make repairs, so we don’t have to always call a repair person. We clean areas that become messy, sort through and organize spaces that haven’t been used for a while, sit in the office and answer phones, donate coffee for coffee hour, filling in during a worship service where needed and of course, taking care of each other. There are so many more, but there isn’t enough space to list them all and I’m sure you could think of quite a few more too.
Stewardship. The base meaning: taking care of. We are all stewards. You, me, our young people who don’t have any money to give on Sunday mornings but can help do stuff, our neighbors, our brothers and sisters around the community and in the world. Taking care of the universe that God created and looking after it. How we do it, is up to us.