Stewards in all seasons? Yes!
Moment by moment, day by day, season by season, life by life, we’re called to be generous, for Jesus’ sake, with our time, talent, treasure and testimony.
Stewards In All Seasons offers monthly devotions to encourage and equip faithful stewards — throughout the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). Here are just a few ideas for how you can participate:
- Publish these monthly devotions in your newsletters and on your websites.
- Use these devotions to begin your council and committee meetings.
- Make Stewards In All Seasons devotions the topic for adult and youth. Consider using it for confirmation or Sunday school sessions. Use the devotion’s Bible text and content as fodder for small group discussion, prayer and encouragement in building stewardship into overall discipleship.
Even better, let the NALC Living and Giving Stewardship Team know about the creative approaches you and your congregation have used to raise up stewards in your homes and congregations. Some of our best ideas — like this devotional series — come from pastors, lay leaders and congregations.
We’re the North American Lutheran Church’s Living and Giving Stewardship Team, and we pray that you and your congregations will use these devotions in your year-round stewardship ministries. Visit us at thenalc.org/stewardship.
January 2020 – THE GREAT REVEAL, Rev. Dr. Cathi Braasch, STS
Welcome to Epiphany, the Great Reveal.
“Epiphany” comes from a Greek word that means “appearing” or “revealing.” The Gospel for Epiphany tells of the Magi, wise men from far away who followed a star to find the newborn King of the Jews. Find Him they did, just as prophets promised. The Great Reveal of Immanuel, God-With-Us in the flesh, was truly underway.
Each church year, Epiphany points us to the rest of the story about the Messiah in the manger. Gospel readings for Epiphany and the remaining Sundays in January move us quickly, over the decades, from the visit of adoring Magi to our Lord’s Baptism and the beginning of His public ministry. The Little One adored by shepherds is recognized as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The newborn King, once announced by angel choirs, now issues His own compelling invitation: Drop everything! Follow Me.
To celebrate this Great Reveal over the years, some of my congregations have observed an old custom, the Epiphany house blessing. As pastor, I’d visit residences to chalk the following on entry door sills: 20 C+M+B 20. The letters CMB denotes this blessing: Christus mansionem benedicat (Christ bless this house), while the numbers represent the millennium and century. CMB also recalls traditional names given to the wise men (Casper, Melchior and Balthasar). Prayers are offered for the house and all who reside therein. Some households gather other family and friends, including the blessing as part of their end-of-Christmas festivities.
Whether it’s a single-family dwelling, an apartment, a room in a skilled nursing facility, or another place, these chalk-marked doors bear witness to the world that Christ is Lord of this home. The blessing also reminds us, coming and going, to put Christ and His Church first in all of our discipleship, including our stewardship of all God’s gifts — time, talent, treasure and testimony. So, may it be for us as we celebrate Epiphany, the Great Reveal, and look forward to the year ahead. Amen.
Written by the Rev. Dr. Cathi Braasch, STS. Rev. Dr. Braasch represents the North American Lutheran Seminary Board of Regents and the NALC Living and Giving Stewardship Team. She is a member of St. John Lutheran Church – Lake Township, Fort Wayne, Ind.
December 2019 – Called and Claimed for Life, Rev. Dr. Dan Selbo
Based on Matthew 3:1-12
As we begin this new monthly devotional series, designed to be a year-round reminder of the calling we have in Jesus and how we are to use our lives and our gifts for Him, it is appropriate that we are beginning in the season of Advent. Advent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is a time when we remember that our Lord will return and, until He does, our calling is to follow Him.
It is also appropriate that we hear, each year, a message from the one who was called to prepare the way for the coming of Christ. There was nothing superficial about John the Baptist or about the things he shared. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Eight words is all it took. As simple and straightforward as it was, it was a message that changed lives. And it is a message that will change your life, if you listen to and apply what he said.
John’s message of repentance, of changing our paths and our patterns and turning our lives toward Jesus, was more than a call for a simple course adjustment in life to make things better. It was a call for a complete life change that would make things new, and one that was and is only possible in Christ.
In the same way, stewardship is all about using our lives for a purpose far greater than our lives. It is about returning our lives to the One who first gave them to us. In that sense, it is not a consideration in life we are being asked to make, but a calling for life we have been given. It is not a cause in life we are being asked to support, but a claim on our lives that has been laid upon us.
Too many people make the mistake, when it comes to stewardship, of thinking about it as a series of tasks we are called to do, rather than the people we are called to be. Give your money. Offer your time. Use your talents for service to God and others. They jump straight to the tasks of being good stewards, without fully considering the claim Jesus has made on their lives and the calling they have in Him.
As we move into this season of Advent, preparing to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus, and as we look forward to that day when He will return, be careful not to mistake the stewardship tasks with the Christian calling and claim. God is not interested in receiving simply your time and talent and treasure. He sent His Son into the world for something far greater. He was born for you. He came into this world for you. On the cross and in the resurrection, He laid an eternal calling and claim on your life. And one day, He will return to take you to Himself. Until then, you are called and claimed to live for Him. Amen.
Written by the Rev. Dr. Dan Selbo, bishop of the North American Lutheran Church.