It is “Stewardship Season” in the church.
It is playoff season in baseball.
It is disfunction season in Congress.
and it is “leaf season” in my backyard (but I digress).
There is a prayer, “for the Right Use of God’s Gifts” is how it is captioned in the Book of Common Prayer, that speaks for of honoring [God] with our substance, and remembering the accounting we must one day make, be faithful stewards of [God’s] bounty. I love the fact that this prayer really cuts through the fluff and states clearly that one day we will have to man-up/woman-up and be accountable. On any given day the thought of that accounting gives me shivers and reminds me of two things. First, I have to step up my game. Second, I’ll never step it up enough (that’s no reason not to try), but Jesus has me covered.
I’m thinking about, and using, that prayer a lot these days. In part because it is what so many call “Stewardship Season” in the Church. By that they mean it is the time each fall when Church leadership talks about pledging, budgets, and financial stewardship with intentionality, but they (we) do so under the shorthand heading of “Stewardship.” That short-changes both. Talking about money, how we get it, what we do with it, and what it signifies is a topic Jesus spends lots of time on. So the Church speaking about it is a right thing to do – but not the sum total of stewardship. It limits God’s bounty; a bounty that seems quite limitless to me. Stewardship, simply put, is everything we do after we say, “I believe….”
Today is the day after two big things happened in my beloved Detroit, and it is the something-th day of the partial Federal Government shutdown. If you were to look at the Detroit Free Press, at least the “Freep.com” version, you would be hard pressed to know anything beyond the fact that the Detroit Tigers beat Oakland to advance in the baseball playoffs. Now, if you know me and my deep affection for baseball, you know that is a big thing. As a lifelong, and still diehard, Cubs fan, it is nice to have a hometown team that is spending some time playing in October. One learns much theology by being a Cub fan, but that’s for a later post.
The other big thing that happened yesterday was that Detroit’s former mayor (for me, the one who shall not be named) was sentenced to twenty-eight years for crimes against the city and its people, and the abuse of office and power. No one is more ready to put that whole thing in the past than I am. But, under the banner of “that accounting we must one day make” it seems to me that a failure to reflect deeply on our stewardship of position, power, responsibility, accountability, as well as our stewardship of the poor, the sick, the hungry, the worker, the economy, the abused, the defenseless, the environment, the Church, and certainly money and our use of it, is something worthy.
Worthy of Congress’ investment of time, and possibly a good use of some of the upcoming 28 years that he whom I will not name will have on his hands. Most of all, worthy of our time, energy, and the inevitable and resultant call to change with which each of us will be confronted.
Being reminded, in prayer or otherwise, that we face accountability for, well, everything, can sound like a threat. I don’t see it that way. There are few truth-tellers in our lives, and this prayer, without judgement, is speaking a simple truth to us. If it challenges us, it is not with judgement, but with opportunity.
I have to go now and tend to the leaves. I pray you joy this season,