Dear Starmount Friends,
Last week in worship we heard from a faithful member of our congregation who shared a moment for mission introducing the beginning of what is commonly referred to as Stewardship Season in the church. Unfortunately, those words, “Stewardship Season,” don’t often stir up too much excitement within us. For many of us Stewardship Season is something that we simply endure. We realize that it is necessary, and so we grin and bear a few weeks of announcements, mailers, and sermons that talk about giving and money, until it is finally over. We are then grateful we don’t have to hear about all that “money talk” until next year. I know I have felt that way on more than one occasion in more than one congregation.
Perhaps some of our misgivings about Stewardship Season come from a fundamental misunderstanding about what Stewardship really means. Even the word “stewardship” is confusing. What is “stewardship” anyway? It is not really a word we use much anymore outside of the church.
While we might have to think a minute or two to come up with a good definition of “stewardship,” there is another word that we would all probably understand immediately: “generosity.” We all know what it means to be generous, or we would at least recognize generosity when we see it practiced.
Christian Smith from the “Generosity Project” out of Notre Dame describes generosity this way.
“Generosity is the virtue of giving good things to others freely and abundantly. It is a learned character trait that involves attitude and action entailing both the inclination and actual practice of giving liberally. It is not a haphazard behavior but a basic orientation to life. What generosity gives can vary: money, possessions, time, attention, aid, encouragement, and more but it always intends to enhance the true wellbeing of the receiver. Like all virtues, generosity is in people’s genuine enlightened self-interest to learn and practice.”
For me, the most powerful line of that quote is that generosity, “is not a haphazard behavior, but a basic orientation to life.” If this is true, then generosity or stewardship are not concepts we should be focusing on for just a few weeks each year in the fall, but ones that we should be exploring all year around.
Over the next few weeks I invite you to join me in pondering the generosity of God and how we can respond to the abundance of grace we have been given.
Dear Starmount Friends,