Tag Archives: ownership

Understanding the word “stewardship”

Like a lot of faith communities, the Table takes time in October and November to refresh ourselves on the meaning of stewardship.

And it can be a really hard concept to grasp, especially if you’ve only ever learned about it in the context of giving money to support a ministry or organization.

But stewardship is more!

The psalmist in Psalm 65 (v. 9-11) speaks of God’s care for the earth.

You visit the earth
and make it abundant,
enriching it greatly
by God’s stream, full of water.
You provide people with grain
because that is what you’ve decided.
Drenching the earth’s furrows,
leveling its ridges,
you soften it with rain showers;
you bless its growth.
You crown the year
with your goodness;
your paths overflow with rich food.

At the heart of stewardship is ownership – what do we really own? Our consumeristic society teaches us that we work hard and earn something for it. We then trade or buy for things that we need to live and enjoy life. However, all of those things that we use at their most basic level were not created by us. The oil that we pull from the earth to power our plants and cars was not created by us. The wood and stone and dirt that we build our homes, livelihoods, and gardens from were not created out of thin air. Even the oxygen we breathe is a gift that comes to us out of creation itself.

And so at some level, all that we receive in our lives – every bite of food, every paycheck, every breath – depends on someone or something else moving on our behalf.

This is the underlying concept of stewardship – it’s recognizing that all we have in our lives, whether it is a lot or very little, is a gift. And if it is a gift, then how can we not share it freely with others since we ourselves received it so freely? Stewardship recognizes that we are not really owners in as much as we are caretakers of these resources. We might use them for a time but then insure that others in need and future generations will enjoy these gifts as well.

And so this season of stewardship is less about how much money you might give – it’s more about how we as a community respond to the ways God has blessed us and how we shall share those blessings with others.

Later this week, I’ll tackle a couple of other questions, like how much we give and how our giving can reshape the world.


The Table celebrated World Communion Sunday

We emphasize the power of ownership in our culture.

Do you own your own home?

Do you respect and practice your individual freedoms?

Do you enjoy the ability to move and speak freely?

Do you claim things in your life that no one else can claim?

We do take ownership in our worship settings too, but sometimes, we take ownership of the wrong things. What do I mean? I’ve been in church settings where people claim a pew or a spot where they always sit. Or they claim a specific job or practice. Or they might even have a particular cause that they alone fight for.

Often, we rarely take ownership of our own power to worship… or to make worship meaningful to us.

On Sunday morning at the Table, we had our crowd of folks setup our central table for this World Communion Sunday. It went great! As you can see from the photo above, our table was ready to go as we began our worship time. Like that practice, there are things you can do, wherever you are, to prepare to worship.

For example, you might stop and breathe first. Relax and try to become aware of God’s presence in that moment. As you gather yourself, this could be an opportunity to let go of anything nagging at you (a fight with a friend, the desire to check your email, your busy schedule ahead of you). Just be. Then, when you are ready, turn to the worship time before you, fully present for every song, prayer, and word that might be shared.

Anytime you worship, whether its a moment of silence in your busy day or on a Sunday morning, there are things that will go right and things that will go wrong. There may be something that annoys you or bothers you. When you face it fully present and when you realize that you can find something of value even in a chaotic mess, you move from anxiety to openness, openness to what God might be doing in our midst.

I talk with lots of people who want to find time for quiet and reflection in the bustle of their lives. Sometimes, we all forget that we do indeed have power – we can take ownership and create a moment to be present to God.


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