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Faith-Filled Generosity: What do we mean by Stewardship?

Recently Father Eliacin asked me to write a few paragraphs relating to “Stewardship”; a simple enough task as I had performed this task before. But as I started to think about it I realized so many things had changed and so much was different than when, many years ago I produced my Stewardship Presentation for St Johns congregation. Also I had experienced a subdural hematoma which required a craniotomy which impacted my brain causing me initially to be unable to find words with meanings I wished to express in sentences and also a loss of the meanings for some words. Most of these problems have receded as a medical team have worked on my rehabilitation but nevertheless I felt a need to ask myself the question “what does Stewardship mean” in the context of St Johns?

Such a question took me back many years to my Professor of Philosophy, Dwayn Richens. He started our first class after he introduced himself with the question, “What do you mean by…” (and here insert a word). What ensued was absolute silence. And so he tried again with another word, still silence and then followed another word, and another. Finally I thought he must be seeking a reply from the class and so I responded, probably with a synonym. At this there was a little curl upwards in his lips as a smile formed. He had obtained his objective, and he walked up to my desk and with twinkling blue eyes said, “You sir are in a state of intellectual chaos.”

He then proceeded to teach the class the importance of how the real meanings of each word should be defined with clear boundaries so that in their use the meaning was unambiguous and communication was absolutely clear. To be sure my brain with it’s impairments needed a clear and unambiguous definition. I turned to what I had been taught, that was finding root of the word and proceeding from there. From the dictionary I obtained only an old word from which “steward” is derived. By explanation a number of persons with different specific responsibilities were described, none associated with the church and none expressly spiritual. My professor was right about ambiguity and no clear communication. How to proceed?

The old, not ancient, word for steward was “stiweard”, which when the derivation is broken down is a melding of “stig” a word for house or hall, and “weard”, a word for ward. That word for ward, what is its meaning. Referring again to the dictionary “ward” is defined as “Have in Keeping, to protect, (chiefly now of GOD).”

So now let us see what Stewardship has come to mean from researching the root of the word. It means to “Have in keeping, and to protect the house of God.” So what does that mean?

These words make me think in a way I have not thought of Stewardship before. I looked at the work being done by my fellow Parishioners. Those working on the fabric of the building were certainly working on the secular House of God and doing more than their fair share. Those working on Finance also contributed more than their fair share considering the amount of time they contributed struggling to keep inadequate sums funding the many needy projects. Then there are many others that go unrecognized. These are the Good Stewards who are committed to “selfless service”, in the words of Jay Morris, and who are a model upon whom we each need to model and measure ourselves.

But when we talk of the House of God what do we mean? Here we are trying to understand Stewardship in the spiritual world. The House of God in keeping and protection. This conjures up for me the vision of what I must do to keep the vision, the values and the commandments that Jesus taught and that causes me to return to the words he uttered in the Sermon on the Mount. For those he blessed in Matthew 5, verses 3 to 10, surely we can find ways to help them.

The problem is in this modern world that everyone is often too busy for those with families to care for and to contribute much of their time. For many of those who are retired the cost of living and medications weighs heavily on their finances and savings. To preserve the House of God it seems to me that we must ask those who do not have the time to contribute of their treasure and for those with little or no treasure to contribute of their time.

This is happening in St Johns with the Good Stewards but we must all be Good Stewards. The question is can we all measure ourselves against them and become their equals in how they contribute so that Gods House as well our St Johns building becomes safer and stronger as they grow into the future.

David Hannaford
Vestry Member

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5.3-10

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