4 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, *
the moon and the stars you have set in their courses
5 What is man that you should be mindful of him? *
the son of man that you should seek him out?
6 You have made him but little lower than the angels; *
you adorn him with glory and honor;
7 You give him mastery over the works of your hands; *
you put all things under his feet:
8 All sheep and oxen, *
even the wild beasts of the field,
9 The birds of the air, the fish of the sea, *
and whatsoever walks in the paths of the sea.
10 O LORD our Governor, *
how exalted is your Name in all the world! (Psalm 8:4-10 NRSV)
The rich imagery of Psalm 8, the psalm appointed for this past Sunday, is compelling in so many ways. Written at a time when people, not some but nearly all, labored sunup to sundown, day in and day out, simply to provide enough sustenance for survival, the writer is reflective. “When I consider your heavens…. What is man[kind]…?” The writer is awed by the Divine, but almost equally taken by the role God has assigned to his kind (to us). We are “but little lower than the angels”, and we have been assigned mastery over the work of God’s own hands.
It is no stretch then to arrive at the realization that we are, by Divine Appointment, stewards of the works of God. Stewards we are: of all sheep and oxen, even the wild beasts of the field, birds of the air, fish of the sea and other creatures of the sea. Stewards of life: terrestrial, avian, and aquatic. Seems nothing has been left out. I wonder, as I reflect on psalmist’s revelation, about how the buffalo of the Great Plains might regard our work. If asked, what would the great whales and the coral reefs of the oceans, and even our nearby Rouge River say? How are the great condors of our pacific coast fairing; the tigers of Siberia, the bees and the associated flowers, shrubs, and lands?
If we possess even a grain of honesty, we can rightly conclude that humankind’s stewardship of the Divine’s handiwork is greatly lacking. Over the ages we have demonstrated a far greater ability to advance own agenda and serve first our own needs without consideration of God’s creation. Further, I’ll go out on a limb here, I believe at one time or another everyone’s individual stewardship of the things given us has been more focused on self than on being a steward created but little lower than the angels.
The Good News is God has not taken the job away from us. We have a chance to change – if we are doing a good job, we can do better. If we have not given this much thought, or dismissed it when it has entered into our moments of reflection, we can return our attention to it, and start to advance from where we are.
This is typically (financial) stewardship season in the life of many congregations. Those resources are no less a part of what God has entrusted to us than the beasts and birds, the aquifers and acres. So too then, the Good News applies to these things as well. Like the psalmist we can reflect. Because of God’s continued assignment to us of the role of masters (of the craft) of being stewards, we can change. We can grow in understanding, faithfulness, action and generosity.
As with all who have been given charge over things that matter our day of accountability will come. As I contemplate that day, I am reminded that to whom much is given, from them much will be expected. Not because God is overbearing, but because God knows our capacity.
May God continue to bless us as we strive to fulfill the Divine trust in our capacity as stewards.
Your brother in Christ
PS Don’t forget, Pledge In-Gathering Sunday is October 28. Plan to join us to place your pledge card on the altar. If you cannot be with us, send it on to us before the 28th and we will be sure to place it there for you.