October 30, 2011

Stewardship  Sunday Sermon

Delivered by The Most Reverend Bernard E. Sheffield, OSB, D.D.
Auxillary Bishop – North American Old Catholic Church
 St. Julian of Norwich Parish

         Good morning everyone and I hope we all stayed pretty dry this week and weekend.  Father Bill asked me to speak today, because he knows I like to talk, and my homilies are probably a little shorter than his and that means you will have more time for your coffee and social.

        It’s hard to believe that November is here all ready – Monday is Halloween, Tuesday is All Souls Day and Wednesday All Saints Day – Then we start thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas!  Wow the time goes to fast. Now we begin to start thinking about the decorations we might want to add to our collection, or the gifts we want to get for our “special people”.  The stores have all ready began advertising their specials and promotions getting us excited for the season. 

         We all spend a lot of time taking care of ourselves, our homes, our clothes, our cars, selecting the food we eat, the gifts we might purchase, and thinking pretty good about ourselves because we have accomplished much during our life to be able to have most of the things we like and the comforts surrounding us.

          But, my dear Brothers and Sisters, we really do not own any of those things, not even the money in out pocket! What you say?  I do own all of those things, as well as the money in my pocket.  I worked hard for those things, for the security I now have in life.  No one gave me anything, I did it all myself. 

          Did we? 

         Not really Brothers and Sisters, we don’t own anything.  What is that old saying, “You can’t take it with you.”  How true that is.  When we leave this earth, whatever we have stays behind.

          We are the Stewards of everything we have and all that we do and are able to do.  God has given us the resources, the knowledge, the ambition, the intuition, the partnerships and everything else, for the restoration of the world through the building of God’s kingdom.

         What is a Steward?  Well, a definition is someone who manages the property, finances or household of another.  This not only includes these things but our time and talents as well.     My Brothers and Sisters, God is the owner of all things we have and do.  He designed and built the world and us as well. 

          This means we are Stewards not only of ourselves, but of our Church as well.   The church consists of two things, the people and the building or campus.  We as Christians, should take an active part in the community of Christ around us.  Visiting the sick, feeding the poor, doing whatever we can to be the Christians we say we are. 

         And talking about our church, we all have time and talents that we can use to help maintain the campus we use.  We all came from a trade or a skill that can still be used in maintaining and preserving the worship space we occupy this very minute.

          Too often when you hear us starting to talk about tithing etc, right away its – oh no, here we go again, more money.  Is that all they talk about is more money.  Unfortunately, buildings and property, like our church, needs money to exist.

          We are sitting in a cool building, well lighted, no leaks in the roof (and that’s something else we need to take a proactive approach to prevent a major problem). 

         Recent studies tell us that the amount a Christian family gives to Christian causes, has dropped steadily for the past 40 years.  We simply don’t give like our parents and grandparents gave.

          Why is this?  Well simply stated, we are living to the absolute limit because we have defined out contentment as being whatever we have plus more.  We as a society want the newest, the biggest, and the best.  We want to, or have to, keep up with the Jones’s. 

          There is nothing wrong with wanting the better things in life, but there needs to be balance.  Balance for our own sake, balance for the sake of our soul.  I am a Benedictine, and as Benedictines, we try to follow the Rule of St Benedict where balance is the key element.  That is balance in ourselves, our life our spirituality – everything!  In 1st Corinthians, chapter 15 verse 58 it says:

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

          That is part of stewardship, recognizing that we have to account for the way we handle what God has entrusted to us, whether good or bad.  When we realize that it is worth giving up some things now because God is real and there is a real eternity and God is crediting things to our account.

         So, let me close with this thought – Give what you can of your time, talents and tithes to keep our parish alive and well.  And don’t forget the Dinner and Dance in the Parish Hall on Saturday, November 12th at 6 PM – we still have some tickets available.   May God Bless You All +