Let’s take a deep breath, stewards, especially those of us who are burdened with the financial stewardship of our institutions. For Holy Week let’s put aside our congregational balance sheets, tables of giving and charts of weekly worship attendance. Lent is the penitential time when Christians take stock of our lives of faith and embrace anew the Holiness and Mystery of God.
Lent comes to a crescendo in the events of Holy Week. As a result, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and the Resurrection of Our Lord provide time for all of us to reflect on what is really important and of what we are really stewards.
And it comes down to this: We are the inheritors and stewards of God’s movement to intervene decisively in worldly affairs, to reconcile and save humanity and all of creation. We are stewards of a bold message: that through the unassuming person of Jesus of Nazareth, a ragamuffin rabbi from a no account backwater of the Ancient Near East, God’s fulness dwelled and announced the Good News for all people.
The Good News: God is not a distant, disaffected entity hiding from us outside of our space and time.
The Good News: God is always with us and will never leave us.
The Good News: God loves us despite our sinfulness.
The Good News: God’s Son saves us.
The Good News: God’s greatest desire is to liberate us from the petty, dreary slavery of the sinful world that human beings have created, and instead to invite us to live in the joy, freedom, security and love of the Kingdom of God that is inbreaking whenever faithful people gather, worship, serve and pray in the name of God’s son, Jesus. Jesus, through whom we have access to God, and through whom we are saved by grace through faith.
The world was hostile to the Good News 2,000 years ago because it’s message of freedom contradicted the enslavement agenda of kings and commerce, and even some of the religious institutions. The world struck back, and God’s son was brought before a court on trumped-up charges and executed. And the world thought it had scored a complete victory, snuffing out the Good News once and for all.
But God had the last word, when Jesus the Christ rose from the dead and declared God’s victory.
We are called to declare God’s victory anew, and that’s the point, stewards. All the ministries we work so hard to keep financially afloat — the churches we have built with bricks, the communities we have formed, the Christian service agencies we have created — all these ministries have but one objective: To declare God’s victory and bear witness to a world that is still hostile to the Good News, which still contradicts the enslavement agenda of countries and corporations, and even some religious institutions..
So this Holy Week, dear stewards, take stock and remember that when we return to scrutinizing the balance sheets and the attendance records, we are primarily stewards of something more precious and sacred. The world may reject us, but God is with us and will have the last word. And that’s Good News, indeed.
Photo by Randy OHC, used by Creative Commons license