by Maria Elliott, Trinity Episcopal Church, New Orleans
I came that you may have life, and have it abundantly. – John 10:10
This article is the first of what we- members of your Stewardship Congregational Consultants – hope will be many articles on the subject of stewardship. No doubt some of them will be on the subject of “how to” do an annual appeal, a capital or planned giving campaign, or even a year-round stewardship focus in your church. For me though, stewardship is prayer.
My work for the Church for many years has been the work of practicing, encouraging, and understanding the tangible benefits of generosity. In the past two years all of that changed – or so I thought – when I was asked to take on the job of Pastoral and Spiritual Care at Trinity Church, New Orleans. My immediate reaction to the request was, “I’m unqualified”. This, as I think of it, was my response when asked all those years ago to work in the area of stewardship. Perhaps we are called to practice what we need to learn most!
By virtue of being created in the image of God – we are not only qualified, but called to live lives as stewards of creation. That is the recognition that all that we have – even life itself – is a gift from the Creator. God’s grace and love has no boundaries and reflecting on that grace with gratitude is a good place to begin. It is virtually impossible to be depressed, or withholding, or anxious, or sad when expressing gratitude. And it takes practice – daily practice. It is too easy to go through our days thinking what we have is ours, that we earned it, or found it, or created it without God’s help. Our egos need reminding daily, that all we have and all we are – comes from God.
I am reminded of the impressive ways God speaks to us through nature. Compare the Sea of Galilee with the Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee is teeming with life while the Dead Sea is toxic and, well, dead! They are both fed by the same source – the Jordan River. How can they be so different? The Dead Sea with no outlet keeps all the water for itself, growing saltier, non potable and is unable to sustain life. The Sea of Galilee has an outlet. Water not only flows in, embracing an environment full of life, but also flows out, offering its power and life beyond itself and into the unknown.
Simply put, stewardship is choosing life! And choosing it abundantly.
Maria Elliott is the Director of Pastoral Care at Trinity Church, New Orleans, and a member of the Stewardship Congregational Consultants.
Our Congregational Consultant teams are comprised of knowledgeable lay and ordained individuals from throughout the diocese. These teams have experience and training in areas that are critical to congregational vitality and they are available to serve our congregations in a variety of ways. For more information, contact the Rev. Canon John Kellogg at email@example.com.