Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
This time of the year is often the time for stewardship talks, sermons, articles, and fund drives. Wouldn't it be nice if we didn't think of this time as a "time" at all, but as part of our daily living so that "stewardship" became a part of our "Christian living!"
I was moved by a stewardship presentation a couple of years ago about the widow of Zarephath and her son and wanted to share some of their thoughts and words and how they relate to stewardship and our role in it:
In the Old Testament Book of First Kings, the prophet Elijah is engaged in an epic struggle with King Ahab over the worship of pagan gods. At one point, God sends Elijah for safety and refuge some distance away from King Ahab:
Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying "Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you." So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, "Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink." As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, "Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand." But she said, "As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die."
Elijah said to her, "Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth." She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. The jar of meal was not emptied, neither the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke to Elijah. (I Kings 17:8-16)
Unlike the widow of Zarephath, none of us face starvation and utter deprivation. Nonetheless, the wisdom of our culture tells us that we don't have enough stuff, and that we had better hold onto what we do have lest we run out of stuff. Such an ethos of scarcity generates fear. Yet, we find in the Bible that the wisdom is often reversed. The first will be last, and the last will be first. It is in dying to ourselves that we get our lives back. If we choose to be poor in spirit, we somehow become rich in spiritual things. It is in giving that we receive. Live in abundance versus scarcity.
The Scriptures strongly suggest that one of the bedrock principles of God's kingdom and grace is: When we give, we get back - some way, somehow. The widow of Zarephath witnessed this first-hand.
I believe that we witness first hand this counter-cultural reversal and richness and grace at All Saints in our worship, fellowship, study, and outreach. Think about the widow of Zarephath when filling out your pledge card this year and you will be blessed beyond measure.
See you !
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