At the worship service this past Sunday, I introduced our Stewardship Plan.
For Stewardship this year we will be using the Southeastern Iowa Synod, 2023 Fall Stewardship Resources titled: “IMAGINE.” Now, I anticipate you are thinking a resource titled “IMAGINE” doesn’t fall in your typical paradigm of a once-a-year Stewardship topic. But, I hope this resource will create a healthy departure from the common singular focus on time, talents, and finances in Stewardship dialog.
Here are a few excerpts from Pastor Erika Uthe’s Introduction to the “IMAGINE” Stewardship Resources. Please see her full Introduction below.
“…During … (a recent) … Children’s Sermon, one of the young people … said something theologically profound … In response to the question about why Jesus thought the disciples knew where he was going (John 14:3-6), he told me it was because Jesus trusted us. Jesus trusted us. So often our focus as disciples is on our trust in Jesus, … Trust, even with God the creator …, is a two way street…”
“The four weeks from September 17, 2023, through October 8, 2023, share the common theme of God’s trust in us. Imagine: A Stewardship Resource explores this trust as we think of ourselves, and the church as stewards of imagination through these themes:
- September 17: Imagine a World Forgiven (Matthew 18:21-35)
- September 24: Imagine a World Turned upside Down (Matthew 20:1-16)
- October 1: Imagine a World Transformed (Matthew 21:23-32)
- October 8: Imagine a World Set Free (Matthew 21:33-46)”
“… The Prayer of the Office of the Bishop is that this resource might spark imagination in your faith community about what it means to be stewards of God’s mysteries….”
To Implement this Process, there will be an Adult Forum at 9:00am next Sunday, September 17th and the following three Sundays at which Pastor and others will facilitate a discussion of the Stewardship Theme for the week, which is based upon the Gospel for the Sunday.
Then, during the Worship Service on September 17th and the next three Sundays (following Announcements) – An “Overview” of the Stewardship Theme will be read.
The theme for next week, September 17th is “Imagine a World Forgiven” based upon Matthew 18:21-35. Hopefully, you will join us in the Adult Forum each of the next four Sundays and look forward with anticipation to discussing the theme of the day.
Although the Stewardship process just described is different from previous years, I am confident the thought-provoking themes addressed in the next four weeks will help each of us as we prayerfully complete our estimates of giving for 2024. In October, blank Estimates of Giving for 2024 will be provided/sent out along with a letter and year-to-date statements of giving, similar to previous years.
Earlier this spring I was privileged to preach and preside at Faith Lutheran Church in Andover. During the children’s sermon one of the young people of the congregation said something that legitimately cause me to pause, and it might not be the reason you would think. In my experience, adults typically pause if the kids say something 1. funny or 2. totally unexpected and off the wall and they’re trying to figure out if they can work it into the theme of the day. In this case, the young person said something theologically profound and something that I had never really thought of before. In response to the question about why Jesus thought the disciples knew where he was going (see John 14.3-6), he told me it was because Jesus trusted us. Jesus trusted us. So often our focus as disciples is on our trust in Jesus, so it struck me in a new way that day. Trust, even with God the creator of heaven and earth, is a two- way street.
We can talk all we want about the fact that the Triune God is faithful and steadfast, and that only by placing our trust in God can we find life – but that trust is reciprocated by God in you and in the church. God trusts you to fulfill the mission God has for your life. God trusts your congregation to fulfill its mission to be a community of Jesus Christ that activates faith in each disciple so that more people come to know the way of Jesus and discover community, justice, and love. In this stewardship resource, your community will be invited to imagine God’s trust in you specifically as it pertains to stewardship and being the church today.
The four weeks from September 17, 2023, through October 8, 2023, share the common theme of God’s trust in us. Imagine: A Stewardship Resource explores this trust as we think of ourselves, and the church as stewards of imagination through these themes:
- September 17: Imagine a World Forgiven
- September 24: Imagine a World Turned Upside Down
- October 1: Imagine a World Transformed
- October 8: Imagine a World Set Free
In this stewardship resource, you will find a brief overview of the theme and the lectionary texts, children’s sermon ideas, suggested activities for both worship and educational forum, prayers, and songs. The prayer of the Office of the Bishop is that this resource might spark imagination in your faith community about what it means to be stewards of God’s mysteries – and to be found trustworthy in them.
– Pastor Erika Uthe
Excerpt from: Southeastern Iowa Synod 2023 Fall Stewardship Resources