On Sunday, we had our celebration day, when we celebrated the financial commitments made by the church for the next year. Upon reflection of the stewardship campaign, I wish we could also find a tangible way to acknowledge the other commitments made by the church for the upcoming year. I wish there was a way to celebrate the time commitments that are made, the enthusiasm commitments, and the present commitments.
When someone joins the church, there are membership vows that are taken. In those vows, we promise to give our time, talents, gifts, service, and our witness. While there is a way to quantify “gifts,” the other ones are a little more fluid. Sure, we could keep hours on how many hours are spent at the church, but the time spent BEING the church is much different. That may not mean we are at the building, but at the soccer field lifting one another up. It may be the connections we make at the grocery store, or in taking care of those we love.
Of course, money is important, but I think we may need to look holistically at what our stewardship of the church is all about. I am excited about what God is doing at Embry Hills UMC. I am excited about what God is doing in our community and the world. I am excited that we are all called to be a part of it. We are called to be stewards of the gifts God has given us which includes our money, and our time, and our presence, and our brains, and our hearts, and our relationships, and…the list could go on. Giving and taking care of each of these things does not diminish them or replace another. It takes giving and taking care of all areas that we expand our capacities to be God’s people in this world.
In one of my favorite shows, Parks and Rec, there are two main characters who hold competing ideologies; Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson played by Amy Pohler and Nick Offerman. Leslie is an optimistic, enthusiastic person who works in the government and believes it can be a force for good. Ron is a libertarian who believes that government should serve only its basic function of protecting people’s property and staying out of the way. When it comes to the church, I believe these two ideologies also exist. Either the church can be a force for good in the world, or it can stay in its lane, and offer only the services it needs. As you can guess, I am a Leslie. I believe God calls us to more than what happens in this building, but in all areas of our lives. That is the stewardship with which we have been entrusted, and I am so proud and thankful to be at this church.