When John was about three years old, his mother was a teacher in the Sunday School classroom across the hall from John’s. This gave Mom an opportunity to cast a glance John’s way from time to time without giving John the sense that he had no independence. One Sunday she quietly observed John, who was quite large for his age, taking a toy away from a reluctant but helpless classmate, the preacher’s little daughter. Later, over the dinner table, she mentioned that she had noticed his actions and suggested that he could become better at sharing with others. Quite earnestly, John replied “I’ve tried sharing, Mom. I just don’t like it.”
Sharing does not come naturally to most of us. It is a learned behavior. Humans have, after all, evolved from creatures who survived by competing successfully in a world of finite and even scarce resources. Jesus teaches us, however, that God’s economy is not one of scarcity, but one of plenty in which a little boy’s lunch was shared with thousands, and there was a lot left over!
We are a covenant people. That involves sharing with one another. We know that by sharing we can collectively do great good. We empower our churches by working together to increase the love of God and one another, to do justice and to walk humbly with God. That togetherness, that sharing, enables us to do far more than we could hope to do individually. That togetherness, that sharing, is stewardship.
We often find it difficult to talk about financial stewardship. Maybe it’s because we’ve tried sharing in ways that made us think we did not like it. Maybe it’s because we see financial stewardship as giving something up instead of giving into the common causes that are beneficial to all of us. Maybe it’s because we forget that it helps bind us together.
Scripture and experience has taught us that stewardship is essential to our life together. It celebrates the fact that we, the church and its members, share a common lot. In fact, celebrating our stewardship is part of our regular worship life in the offering taken in our worship services. It is an essential part of our worship, of our shared life and work.
The Iowa Conference board of directors recently created a financial development brochure. It was based on a theme suggesting that our conference is “the glue” that sticks us together. I am suggesting that stewardship is also the glue that sticks us together as people of God, people of the UCC and people of each of our churches. Stewardship is an integral part of our being the church together. Let us, therefore, provide financial support to our churches and to our conference not out of a sense of duty, but out of a sense of belonging. Let’s face it: we’re stuck together!
David Nelson, Member of Iowa Conference UCC Board of Directors