by Rob Scholl, Youth Group Leader and Vestry member
When I say the word “stewardship” what first comes to mind? While I’d like to tell you that this word fills me with warm fuzzy feelings, my first memories are less than idyllic. I’m reminded of my first year living in New York City. I had regularly been attending a small Episcopal parish, had already discussed theology over lunch with the rector, and for all intents and purposes was an “unofficial” member. Then came the day when a volunteer approached me awkwardly to talk about “stewardship.” I can’t remember what was said, but I felt a tightness of breath, visualized dollar signs in my brain, and at least mentally pictured myself racing out of the sanctuary like an Olympic athlete.
A few weeks after Hurricane Harvey, David Browder preached the passage of the Good Samaritan. His sermon reminded us (and me) that we are all that dying man by the side of the road — in desperate need of love and saving. And along comes a stranger — The Good Samaritan — who doesn’t look or act like we expect. He has compassion on the man, binds up his wounds, and takes him to an inn. He is willing to pay whatever and do whatever to restore this man whom he doesn’t even know. Our Good Samaritan, Jesus Christ, displayed that love for us by paying the ultimate sacrifice – giving up His life on the Cross. It is that realization that transforms everything. We read that we are given a new heart, new desires, and the Holy Spirit to direct everything we have and do.
At youth group the following week, I read this parable to our kids and challenged them to consider transformative acts — like those of the Good Samaritan — that they had witnessed in the aftermath of the storm. They recalled things such as babysitting family members, washing clothes for flooded families, tearing out sheetrock, and just listening to stories of loss among their friends.
This year’s stewardship theme — Faith in Action– — reminds us that our faith in what Christ already did on the Cross on our behalf and our actions in response to that faith are inextricably linked. Of course, stewardship includes our monetary resources. But if that’s all it is then my mental 50 meter sprint out of that Manhattan parish would have been a correct response. The stories our kids shared from Hurricane Harvey are about a form of stewardship. The volunteer who shows up on Wednesday night to sing for Sunday morning, the usher who takes the collection during the service, the parents who wake up early to bring their son or daughter to Sunday school, and the parishioner who prays for someone in need – yes, these too are forms of stewardship. So this stewardship season attend a class, volunteer to teach, or host a Family or Prime Timers dinner; and pray for our clergy, our leadership, and our fellow parishioners. Don’t go running down the aisle when you hear the word “stewardship” but be reminded that everything we have and everything we do has been transformed by what was done for us so many years ago in Jerusalem.