Twenty-ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time
October 22, 2017
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary time
Mom and Dad have slowed down a bit now that they are in their mid-80’s, but there was a day, before canes and walkers, when they could have pulled won any dance competition. Seriously, in their prime, their dancing was a work of art, a seemingly-effortless movement, as if they were one body. Waltz or a four-step or a fox trot or a polka, it didn’t matter.
Even as a kid, though, it was clear to me that for that kind of dance to happen, one of them had to lead, the other had to follow. Now make no mistake, there were things in life of which Mom was clearly in charge, but not in dance. In dance she gave Dad the lead because two dancers both trying to lead and you’re fighting against each other; two followers and, well, it’s just a mess. Both are essential. This image of dance, with a leader and a follower, offers a great image for a faith-filled dance with God, as well. God leads; we follow.
This morning I’d like to plant that image in our heads in a critical and important part of our personal spiritual life and the life of our parish that we call stewardship.
First, what Stewardship is not: it is not fundraising; it is not asking for volunteers; it is not a recruitments tool for parish projects. That stuff also happens in a parish on occasion. But true stewardship is part of our spiritual life, our dance with God. And in stewardship, whether we are speaking of sharing of our time or our talents or our treasures, it is critical for us to remember that God has the lead.
Stewardship will not work if we try to take the lead, if we put ourselves in charge, because we’ll take it OUR way, not God’s. We become self-serving, self-centered, self-absorbed, just plain selfish…personally and as a parish. It will be all about “me”. For this beautiful dance of stewardship to happen we have to remember: God leads this dance. Or to put it in God’s words: “I am the Lord, there is no other.”
It is God who gives us time on earth; we choose how to use that time. God created us with abilities and strengths and gifts and capabilities and skills and those little things that we are good at that others may not be. We choose how to use them, how to share them. God gives us treasure to build many kingdoms on this earth; we choose how much of that treasure we’ll use to build God’s kingdom. We sacrifice in many ways and for many causes –sometimes reluctantly, like when we pay taxes. We give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Sometimes more eagerly, when we give to God what is God’s.
True spiritual stewardship requires of us to follow Gods’ lead. There can be no dance, no beauty, and no work of art without God’s lead, without our following. We have to choose, every day, how we will do that. How will we use our abilities, our strengths, our capabilities, our skills and all those little things that God has given us? We choose every day how to use our time, what will be our priority, what is important. We choose where to spend our treasure or when to set it aside, to offer it or to hoard it.
When we follow God’s lead, we create a work of art in our generosity and our unselfish sharing, as God did. When we follow God’s lead, we share what we have been given, and when we do that collectively with others we create thing that alone we could never do. When we follow God’s lead we will build a kingdom where God –where God is honored in all that exists. It will be, as St. Paul says, the “work of faith and the labor of love”.
Ponder all of that this week. Or go ahead and dance, yourselves, as a prayerful reminder. It is not my obligation, as your pastor, to raise money. It is my obligation, as your pastor to try to lead you to the joy of Jesus Christ, to bring you to the sacred dance.
This week, think about these things, pray about them. Next week, you’ll all receive some printed material that offers the opportunity to respond, to commit yourself to the dance, if you will.
You and I know that the truly joyful people in this world are the people who dance well with God.