In Jesus’s ministry he was criticized for spending time with sinners and outcasts (Matthew 9:10-11; Mark 2:15-17; Luke 5:29-32, 15:1-2). His response to the Pharisees’ criticism was to contrast their legalistic “sacrifices" with the sacrifice that is pleasing to God, echoing the prophet Hosea and others. Hosea 6:6 “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Matthew 9:13: “[Jesus said] Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have come to call not the righteous, but sinners.”
In Genesis chapter 1 we are told, " In the beginning God created the heaven and earth and everything in it." It is God’s. He created and owns it. He created Adam and Eve and put them in the garden of Eden and gave them dominion over it. He entrusted the creation to them. In the Old Testament, a steward is one who oversees and distributes the master’s possessions. Joseph is an example of a steward, overseeing his Egyptian master’s household. We are likewise called to be stewards of God’s riches. Genesis 39:3-4 “His master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him; he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had.” 1 Corinthians 4:1 “Think of us this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God's mysteries.”
The Old Testament includes stories of God calling to his people, such as Isaiah’s vision to go prophesy to the people: Isaiah 6:8 "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? and who will go for us?’ and I said "’Here I am, Lord, send me.’”
We think of Stewardship as something that happens in the fall. But stewardship is a lifestyle. In the fall, as things begin anew after summer, we have our stewardship campaign, we take stock, how are we doing? Do we need to change our lifestyle? Go another direction?
Join me in my video as I explore Briesgau and Martin Luther's teaching.
Check out my video exploring Martin Luther's history in Alstadt, Heidelberg.
Check out my video "Here I Stand" as I explore Martin Luther's story in Freiberg, Germany.
Not too many of you will have a chance to journey to Worms, so take the journey with me. Check out my exploration of the town of Worms as I continue to dive into Martin Luther's work.
Katie Machmer recently passed to glory. Her family has given a book of pencil art to the church – art connected with the history and life of people along the Danube River in Europe. There is a section of art that in German is called – Die Flucht – the fleeing of people from advancing armies in World War Two. One page caught my eye – of a mother with children fleeing, passing by a large crucifix, a cross with Jesus’ body on it. The cross is on an angle, having been damaged by war. And under this shadow of the cross the family are fleeing. This is Katie’s own story – at age 26 fleeing her village in what is now Serbia, fleeing with her two little children in horse drawn wagons – going through 5 countries to eventual safety. That image is stuck in my mind.
There is a rush to get to Christmas. There is a rush to get the Christmas decorations up in stores. There is a rush to get Christmas songs on the radio. Personally I would prefer this to all wait until we have the Thanksgiving holiday first. (In Australia, there is also a rush, and no Thanksgiving Holiday to be in the way. So early November the tinsel and artificial snow is going up in there stores.) Thankfully we have the season of Advent to catch our breath, to push the pause button, to reflect on why we have Christmas, namely the birth of Jesus. I encourage you to come to worship as you are able, to hear the Advent readings, to pray the Advent prayers, to see the Advent wreath counting down the weeks until Christmas. And you may not be too old to buy an Advent calendar, and open a little box each day, and pray for the Lord’s coming in our midst. Some of you may have other Advent traditions. When Pastor Ramona Hayes was our vicar, she showed us her Jesse tree. What will you do this Advent to help to center yourself on the heart of Christmas, and prepare yourself for this wonderful festival?