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|STEWARDSHIP, MY RESPONSE TO GOD, PART III
The New Providence Diocesan Lenten Mission was held February 26th to February 28th, under the theme: “Stewardship My Response To God.” The Missioner was The Rt. Rev’d. Harold Daniel, former Suffragan Bishop of Mandeville in the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
The material from each evening of the Mission has been put into pamphlet form. This material can be used during Lent for personal devotions, teachings, presentations to parish organizations, small group discussion, etc. The bishop has asked that we make use of this material to keep the diocesan focus on stewardship for the Holy Season and prepare us for the full scale Diocesan Stewardship Initiative (DSI).
The following is a continuation from last week.|
ATTITUDE TO MATERIAL RESOURCES
Our natural inclination is to hoard. (See St. Luke 12:15 & 21)
Greed or avarice is listed among the seven deadly sins. Paul, in Ephesians 5:5 calls it idolatry.
THE DANGERS OF GREED: There is a thin line between greed and prudence. Know the difference. Don’t be fooled!
Greed is very pervasive – touching many areas of human life. Recognize it for what it is. Don’t get trapped!
Greed leads to hardness of heart against one’s fellows, to lust for power, injustice,….. to insensibility in all things of the spirit. (Bernard Haring)
Greed makes a person into a fool.
Understanding greed provides us with an insight into why those possessed by it, can carry out such atrocities for which some individuals, gangs and criminal networks are noted today. They are under the grip of a deadly sin. Our real danger is when, unknowingly, we ourselves come under its grip. We must take immediate and deliberate steps to overcome this deadly threat that stalks humanity, and often takes them unawares.
THE ANTIDOTE TO GREED: (Haring)
Profound contemplation of the vanity of all earthly things
Meditation on the grandeur of the things of eternity
Sincerely walking in the footsteps of the Master carrying his painful cross
THE ATTITUDE OF THE SPIRITUAL PERSON IS TO SHARE. Others rather than self take centre-stage.
Jesus was the man for others because his total interest was in the well-being of others, in this world and in the world to come.
He was willing to die on the cross so that others may experience life in all its fullness. (2Cor. 8:9)
The activity of sharing makes all the difference to the quality of human life.
God has provided enough of everything for everyone.
When a community is willing to share the result is like that seen in Acts 4:34
A story to learn from: A man was privileged in a dream to visit both heaven and hell. On his visit to hell, he was transported into a room where people were sitting around a banqueting table with all the good food that they could ever imagine or desire. Yet he noticed that they were all miserable and starving, because the chopsticks that they were given to eat with were too long for them to manipulate the food from the table into their own mouths. So they remained there looking lean and hungry and hopeless.
On his visit to heaven, the banqueting table and the food were similar to that which he had witnessed in hell, but there was an abundance of joy and hope, and the people were not only happy, but they looked healthy. He noticed that the difference was that here they were not attempting to feed themselves. They used the long chopsticks to feed one another, and so there was not a hungry person among them.
Attending to the needs of others before looking after one’s personal needs was the answer.
SOME THINGS WE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SHARING:
It is the mark of genuine Christian discipleship. God’s grace at work in the lives of his servants urges them to give. (See 2Cor. 8:1) Economic recession cannot stand in the way of the overflowing grace of generosity.
It is a response to the generosity of Christ. (See 2Cor. 8:9; John 1:16)
It is a matter of responsible stewardship. God’s assessment is never based on the quantity of the contribution, but on the proportion of the giving in relation to their means. The proportion must demonstrate the spirit of sacrifice. Giving must be cheerful and regular.
OTHER PATHWAYS IN SHARING:
Companion Links: Diocese to Diocese links made in response to the call for Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence made at the Toronto Congress some years ago. Other institutions have been linked e.g. universities, colleges, cathedrals, parishes. There is need to explore other ways in which these linkages can strengthen the work within a diocese.
Ministry support within the Region: More intentional attempts are needed in this. This should be done in response to a divine call because only divine help can enable a person to make the kind of sacrifice, financial and otherwise, that such an engagement would involve.
Sharing in situations of Regional and Global Crises: The establishing of a fund to facilitate early response by the Province to disasters needs to become a reality despite the financial constraints of each Diocese.
Sending Mission Leaders: There was a period when clergy and teachers from the Province responded to the call to carry out work in parts of Africa and Central America. Where is God calling us to work today?
Legacies of Faith: This represents the call for individual Christians to engage in forward thinking and future planning in their own stewardship of money. Consideration must be given to a method for encouraging the faithful to consider their stewardship responsibility in their estate planning.
Congregational strengthening: This happens when a strong congregation makes the effort to become a part of a new or fledgling congregation, or of a struggling congregation, in order to give it support and to help it grow.
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