Stewardship Sunday

1: “The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness” (Ps 24: 1): On one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the world stands the Royal Exchange in London’s financial district. Carved across the top of the Royal Exchange are the words, “The Earth is the Lord’s.” This is, or should be, a constant reminder to those who are caught up in that financial world that they are merely stewards. How wonderful it would be if, over the Royal Exchange of my heart and yours, we could always see those words and remember that God is the owner; we are the stewards.
2: A Biblical story on tithing from the book of Genesis: “With All My Heart.”
There was a young man named Jacob who started off in life with questionable character. Catching his brother Esau in a weak moment, Jacob traded a bowl of soup for Esau’s birthright. Later tricking his father, Jacob passed himself off as Esau and stole the family blessing. Is it any wonder the name Jacob means “deceiver”? Forced to leave home because Esau had threatened to kill him, Jacob set off for his Uncle Laban’s house. On the way, Jacob had a personal encounter with God one night in a dream. This visitation had such a dramatic impact upon Jacob that when he awoke he vowed to give God a tenth of all God prospered him with from that day forward. Going back to the beginning of our story, how could God use a man of Jacob’s character to accomplish his purposes on earth? Remember that God chose Jacob to father the twelve tribes of Israel and to continue the lineage through which the Messiah would eventually come. What did God see in Jacob’s heart that was worth saving despite his weaknesses? A generous heart. God saw that Jacob would honor Him with his treasures, that he would be a faithful and regular steward of God’s blessings. Stewardship Sunday reminds us that the same God will honor the generosity of our heart when we are faithful in the support of the ministries of our Church.

3: Steward in a ship: If you’ve taken a cruise, you know the value of a good steward, someone who tends to your comfort. The steward keeps your cabin clean, makes your bed, provides fresh linen, replaces needed supplies, and arranges your towels into animal designs. The title “steward” comes from an Old English word for someone who oversees the house or hall of another. In Christian terminology, it’s common for believers to think of themselves as stewards. We’re sailing through the solar system on the good ship Earth, and we feel so at home here we can almost think it belongs to us. But it’s not our ship; it belongs to the Owner, God. We’re placed on board to care for what belongs to Him, and that often means serving others. (Dr. David Jertemiah).

.4: The Christian bats: There is a funny story about three neighboring pastors who were discussing ways of getting rid of bats in their bell towers during a priest conference. The junior pastor said, “I tried shooting them with an air gun, but all I succeeded in doing was putting holes in the roof.” The senior pastor said, “As I am an eco-friendly pastor, I tried something very different. I trapped them and took them 25 miles outside of town and released them there. But in less than 24 hours, they were all back!” Then the seniormost, and a bit eccentric, pastor spoke up. “I got rid of every bat.”  “How in the world did you accomplish that?” the others queried.  “It was easy,” came the reply. “I went to the bell tower and made a loud announcement to the colony of bats: ‘I am going to baptize you and confirm you. Then I will give you a box of offering envelopes and ask you to support the Church with your time, talent and treasure.’ And I haven’t seen any those bats since!”

 1: The sad tale of a dollar bill: The twenty-dollar bill reminisced about its travels all over the country. “I’ve had a pretty good life,” the twenty proclaimed.  “Why, I’ve been to Las Vegas and Atlantic City, the finest restaurants in New York, performances on Broadway, and even a cruise to the Caribbean.” “Wow!” said the one-dollar bill. “You’ve really had an exciting life!” “So, tell me,” says the twenty, “where have you been throughout your lifetime?” The one-dollar bill replies, “Oh, I’ve been to the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church, the Lutheran Church, most of the time to the Catholic church and…” The twenty-dollar bill interrupts, “What’s a church?” 

2: Tithe first: A missionary in Africa heard a knock on the door of his hut one afternoon. Answering, the missionary found a native boy holding a large fish in his hands. The boy said, “Father, you taught us what tithing is. So I have brought you my tithe.” As the missionary gratefully took the fish, he asked the boy. “If this is your tithe, where are the other nine fish?” At this, the boy beamed and said, “Oh, they’re still back in the river. I’m going back to catch them now.” 

3: A stewardship puzzle: A boy told his father, “Dad, there are three frogs sitting on a limb that hung over a pool, and one frog decided to jump off into the pool, how many frogs would be left on the limb?” The dad replied, “Two.” “No,” the son replied. The dad said, “Oh, I get it, if one decides to jump, the others would too. So there are none left.” The boy said, “No dad, the answer is three. The frog only DECIDED to jump.” Does that sound like our last year’s resolution on the “Stewardship Sunday” when we decided to offer our time and talents to God in our parish? 

4: God’s Ownership: Many years ago, a popular preacher delivered a Sunday sermon entitled “God’s Ownership.” Later that day he was invited to the home of a wealthy parishioner. The rich man conducted the preacher over his vast estate. Looking over his broad acres and recalling the morning’s sermon, the rich man said, “Do you mean to tell me that this land does not belong to me?” To which the preacher replied, “Ask me that question one hundred years from now!” 

5: “If I’ve said ‘no’ to them, how can I say ‘yes’ to you?” There was a congregation that was struggling to build a new church. Almost all the members had stepped forward generously with their pledges. But there was one major holdout, the town banker, and he hadn’t given a penny. So, very reluctantly, the minister decided to make a personal call on the banker to plead his case. The banker responded candidly. “I know you must think I’m a cheapskate, Reverend, but I’m really under terrible financial pressures at the moment. My sons at an Ivy League school at a cost of $25,000 a year. My mother’s bedridden in a rest home at $60,000 a year. My daughter’s husband abandoned her and the nine kids and she need $40,000 a year. Now you gotta understand, Reverend. If I’ve said ‘no’ to them, how can I say ‘yes’ to you?” (Fr. Dennis Clarke) 

6: “I challenge you to do it again.” There was a millionaire businessman who was giving his testimony before a congregation. “When I started out, I could barely afford to pay the rent. I got a job – an ordinary job – and God led me to perform an extraordinary act of trust. I took my first paycheck, every penny of it, and gave it to the church. Ever since that time, God has continued to bless me, and God has made me a millionaire, starting with that simple act when I gave God everything I had.” And when he sat down, an elderly woman sitting near him leaned over and said, “I challenge you to do it again.” 

7: “Whatever God wants, God takes!”: There is an old story of the three traveling evangelists who were talking about how they dealt with the offerings that were collected during their evangelistic meetings. The first one said, “I draw a big circle on the ground, and then I throw the money in the air. Whatever lands inside the circle belongs to God, and whatever lands outside the circle belongs to me.” “Oh, I can do better than that,” said the second evangelist. “I put a coffee can in the middle of the floor. Then I throw the money in the air. Any money that lands inside the coffee can, belongs to God, and I get to keep anything that lands outside.” Then the third evangelist grinned and said, “I’ve got you both beat. I just throw the money in the air, and whatever God wants, God takes!” 

8: Tithe and tip: What’s the difference between giving God a tithe and giving a tip?    A tip is 15% and a tithe is 1%

8) The marooned tither: There were two men shipwrecked on an island.  The minute they got onto the island one of them started screaming and yelling,
“We’re going to die!  We’re going to die!  There’s no food!  There’s no water!  We’re going to die!” The second man was propped up against a palm tree and acting ever so calmly it drove the first man crazy. “Don’t you understand?!!”  “We’re going to die!!” The second man replied, “You don’t understand; make $100,000 a week.” The first man dumbfounded, looked at him and asked, “What difference does that make?”  “We’re on an island with no food
and no water –we’re going to DIE!!!” The second man answered, “I make $100,000 a week, and I tithe ten percent of my wages.  My pastor will find me”.

9. “I am building a cathedral.” Many years ago, in England, three men were pouring into a trough a mixture of water, sand, lime and other ingredients. A passer-by asked them what they were doing. The first said, “I am making mortar.” The second: “I am laying bricks.” But the third said, “I am building a cathedral.” They were doing the same thing, but each looked at it differently. And what a difference that made! We can see something similar in the way people relate to their parish, why they give. One person says, “Oh! All they do down there is ask for money.” The second person replies, “Well, you have to pay the bills.” But the third person says, “I am building the Body of Christ.” The three are doing the same thing, but what a difference in their attitudes! (Fr. Phil Bloom)