Bishop Strickland on Generosity

September 02, 2022
Bishop Kevin Strickland
Our culture measures blessing as money and has completely forgotten, or never known, that it is God who is the originator of blessing. God’s not against money. Gather it up. Pass it out. We are living in the story of the abundance that God has provided for us. Spreading wealth, God made us who we are as God’s people.

As the church---stewards of God’s radically different message—we hold a sacred treasure of truth. To the fearful ones among us who read the daily front pages, to the proud ones among us who promise us that our efforts will bring all that we need—to all of them and to us God offers fundamentally different news: God’s abundance is unearned. God’s generosity can shape ours. The life at the top of God’s lifeline is fulfilling, rich, satisfying, enough.

In this strange new-old time, we can “Make it Simple” by paying attention to God’s abundance, and proclaiming it by our own abundant giving.

HERE! NOW! Our message is counter-cultural; counter-intuitive. Trust in the midst of paranoia. Believe in the midst of lost-ness. Give in the midst of losing. Give thanks in the midst of idolatry.

As people of faith, as Lutheran-Christians, we hold a truly unique perspective on life. God’s economy—an abundance that is more that we could ever earn. A responsibility that is larger and more energizing than we could have ever imagined. A message the world hungers. A generosity that changes lines and strengthens lifelines.

When we are baptized in Christ prodigal—selfish—lavish—extravagant love, our whole lives and submerged into those freeing waters. We don’t get to hold our arm out of the water with wallet in hand.

Through the eye-opening, heart-transforming waters of Holy Baptism, our gracious Heavenly Father, liberates us from sin and death and calls us to live a new life. We are called to be God’s children in this world and in so being, God’s stewards of his Kingdom’s economy.

A steward is a person who takes care of precious property which is not his or her own. We own nothing in this world. Everything we are and everything we have belongs to God. God does not need us to give to him. God has given everything to us, so that we want to give to others, as a response to God’s love.

But stewardship is not about that narrow slice of life we call offerings to the church or that narrow slice of our time, talents and treasures that we give to church. Stewardship is taking care of the precious property/people that God has entrusted to us.

Steward comes from the Greek word, “oikos”, which means house.

Stewardship is taking care of household matters. A related word is “oikonomics” from which we get the word, “economics:” Stewardship is taking care of money matters that God has entrusted to us.

And none of this belongs to you. Your clothes, your house, your furniture, your pets, your toys, your plants, your family. None of it belongs to you. Can you take it with you when you die? Of course not. It’s not yours. Everything in life belongs to God who entrusts you and me to care for these precious possessions.

Thank you to each of you for all the ways you stewards the mysteries of God’s grace and for your generosity. In order for us as a synod and a church to continue equipping, empowering, and engaging all of God’s people to love and serve; we need your continued support and stewardship.

If you or your congregation would like to give, please make a commitment directly through our synod online portal:
 

Thank you!

+  Bishop Kevin L. Strickland (he/him/his),

    ELCA Southeastern Synod