Monday Devotional

October 20, 2019

Dear Friend,     

As we prepare for Pledge Sunday, let me share two moments that shaped my understanding about stewardship. The first took place at a church in South Africa. The service was at a Methodist Church and many of the elements were similar to how we worship in our local church. But one element that was unique was the incorporation of dance. The choir and church leadership all danced down the aisle as they processed into and out of the service. In fact, as they danced out for the recessional, the whole congregation joined in and danced out of the sanctuary. It made for a very energetic entry and exit. The other element of dance was in the offertory. After the offering had been shared, the ushers brought the plates back into the sanctuary to place them on the altar. But as they brought them forward, they again danced. What I took from this was a spirit of joy about the offering. It was something to celebrate, something in which they found delight. At times, we might think of the offering as an obligation, but in this instance, it was a moment of joyful worship. The second moment comes from a small church I served. When I arrived, they were quiet conversations about whether they would have to close their doors. We deferred maintenance because there was no money. Sometimes Church Council meetings took a somber tone as we looked at where we could cut funds. After a year together, the church began to experience a revitalization. Membership increased and their finances reflected this growth. With those increased funds, the church was able to renew their commitment to pay their denominational tithe, what used to be called apportionments, in full. By the end of the year, it became apparent that we were going to meet the goal with 100% payment. The church Treasurer and Council chairperson didn’t want to mail the final payment. It was important to deliver it in person. So we made an appointment and drove to the District offices. I didn’t anticipate that this was going to be such an emotional moment. The chairperson cried as he handed the December check to the District Superintendent. In part, this check represented our connection to the denomination and an appreciation for our shared ministries. It also represented the growth and renewal they were experiencing. These were reasons to rejoice. We took photos of the moment and placed copies on a bulletin board in the church for all to see. These moments help shape my understanding of our stewardship. Though we won’t dance our pledges down the aisle (you are welcome to if you would like, but it’s your choice) this is a moment to rejoice. It is a moment to give thanks for what God has done in and through our lives and the ministry that continues through us. And it is an opportunity to dedicate our lives to God’s service, not just financially, but through our time, talents, service and witness. And that is worth celebrating.