Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
Acts 2:43-47, NRSV
Through baptism, we are incorporated into the body of Christ, called the Church. We become bound to one another, interconnected; we become a part of the larger whole. Worship, life together, and mission are the cornerstones of our identity as the people of God. We promise that we will live together as brothers and sisters who become bearers of signs and wonders in Jesus name. We show our belief in the Lordship of Jesus Christ through our sharing of all things; demonstrating generosity not just towards ourselves, but towards all who have need. This is all then sustained by our commitment to shared table, praise and worship, and our insistence that there is no longer “I,” but only, “Us.”
This coming weekend we begin our stewardship time in our life together. This time can be difficult since our society as a whole tends to discourage public discussion of money or finances. Many of us struggle to talk openly about our financial resources, often preferring to share our health or relationship struggles rather than talk about what we spend our money on. Over the years as a pastor, I have seen it over and over again: a great distaste for money talk in the church. Some even believe that neither the pastor nor the church should ever speak about these topics in a direct way, viewing money as something that is more personal than public. I have heard this uncomfortableness expressed in a variety of questions asked to me throughout the years, such as:
“Why is the church always wanting my money?”
“Why do pastors mention it so much?”
“Do we have to talk about it every year?”
“Don’t the leaders understand that it makes people uncomfortable?”
However, I would like to challenge you in these next few weeks, to push beyond this societal-based discomfort. I want to challenge you to think about stewardship, not as a means of supporting the church’s budget, but rather as a way to further grow in our relationship with Christ. As a way to further develop our commitment to the belief that Christ alone is Lord of our lives, and that we are uniquely bonded together as Christ’s body, here on earth.
The financial resources we share with one another are not about the church wanting our money. That is the message that the world gives. The message that tries to convince us that holding on to material goods is far better and safer than letting them go; that tries to convince us that having more should be our focus, rather than having enough.
Thankfully, though, we do not worship the world. We worship Christ. Who teaches us that, when we get beyond our desire for more, we are able to discover that we already have enough. That, when we join our financial resources together we do so for a greater good – a good that ensures no one around us goes without their basic needs, that ensures our witness can continue in our community, that ensures the kingdom of God can be brought here to earth through our body, and finally, that ensures our continual growing closer to God and to one another.
This month, we will be asking ourselves, “How much is enough?” This question is an invitation to conversation: to growing awareness of the needs of our neighbors, co-workers, friends, and strangers, and to growing awareness of what we need to live a life anchored in Christ. I invite you to be in prayerful discernment for the ways God might be calling you into generosity during this time together.
I cannot wait to see what God does in this season. Our call is unique in this community but we are only able to live into it if we share all things in common as we welcome, love, and serve.