Stewardship and the Spiritual Life
How would you describe Christianity to someone completely unfamiliar with the concept? Presiding Bishop Michael Curry refers to Christianity as the Jesus Movement. Bishop Curry intends to convey that Christianity is not synonymous with the institutionalized denominations and churches of our time, but remains the mission of God in the world, which is the Holy Spirit dwelling in our midst. St. Paul the Apostle, when he is before a Roman government official named Felix, describes Christianity as "the Way," in the sense that Christianity is a way of life. St. Paul and Bishop Curry describe Christianity in similar ways; they both think of Christianity as something we do and something God does within us, rather than as a mere sect, group, or club to which we might belong.
If we are to flourish in the spiritual life, which is our walk with Jesus, then it is good for us to think of Christianity in ways similar to that of St. Paul and Bishop Curry. Walking with Jesus can never be relegated to an aspect of our lives or be one of the many things to check off a list on a busy day. Walking with Jesus describes the totality of who we are if we call ourselves Christians. When we realize the fullness and the comprehensive nature of Christianity, we inevitably realize that this walk with Jesus lays claim to the entirety of our lives. We cease to think of ourselves as individuals who are also adherents to the Christian religion, and begin to understand ourselves as God does, as citizens of the kingdom of God. We cannot compartmentalize our faith. Who we are spiritually is simply who we are.
As we enter our season of stewardship, I challenge us to not think about stewardship as a task to be completed. Do not think about giving time or money as something we can check of a list so as to remain members of the Christian club. Rather, my hope is that we together will ask the Holy Spirit to use this time of reflection about stewardship to draw us into deeper and more meaningful relationships with each other and with God. Stewardship is overseeing the part of God's bountiful creation that we have at our disposal. The amount of creation that we are stewards of is inconsequential, for God is much more concerned with who we become with each other as we practice stewardship. I encourage you to practice stewardship as a spiritual discipline. What we do with our time and what we do with our money is not separate from who we are, indeed it is not isolated from who we are spiritually. For as the prayer "For the Right Use of God's Gifts," reminds us: it is by God's grace that we are able to honor God with the things that we possess. Therefore, as we enter a season of reflection about stewardship, we would do well to remember that it is by God's grace we give of ourselves and our wealth, and we do so as a part of "The Way" and the Jesus Movement which is about the reconciliation of all people and all things to God.
The Book of Common Prayer, 827.