Dear Church Family and Community,
I was thinking this morning about my first real job. Growing up, I had always helped out here and there. There was taking out the trash for Mrs. Stauffer in our apartment building, shoveling for neighbors when it snowed, and even helping people get groceries. While in some families, children apparently got allowances or were paid to do chores, we made money working outside the house. But odd jobs here and there were not really consistent. So, my first real job, the consistent one, was becoming a Philadelphia Daily News paperboy.
I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was playing on the street with some friends when we noticed a guy frustratingly placing newspapers on people’s porches. When he reached our side of the street, I went over and aced my first ever “official” interview. I noted that he clearly had some much more important things to be doing and that if he ever was looking for someone to take this route off his hands, I was his guy. I knew the neighborhood, I could provide references, and I would be the most reliable paperboy he’d ever have. Like I said, I aced it!
A few days later, I started my paper route. I’d head over to the house where we picked up our papers, load up, and then go around the neighborhood delivering. Rain, sleet, snow, or sunshine, I would be on that route. Depending on the day, I’d have to deliver in the mornings or after school (evening editions). I’m not sure if I was the best paperboy the Philadelphia Daily News ever had, but surely I was in the top ten. Let’s be honest, certainly I was top five. Just ask all my wonderful clients.
Now with this new job, came new responsibilities. Earning money consistently as a 12-year-old meant I had to learn how to budget. I was now expected to finance things like haircuts and other grooming essentials, trips to Elmwood Skating Rink (you weren’t REALLY from Southwest Philly if you weren’t a regular at Elmwood…and it was right down the street so I had no excuse!) and other activities, or any expense that was deemed “extra.” Honestly, I didn’t mind this at all. The autonomy that came from earning my own money was worth it all.
What I also learned, though, was that part of my new responsibilities entailed helping others. The first practical way was in being able to treat some of my younger cousins with trips to the corner store, or maybe some Chinese Food from Bo-Wah around the corner. If they had a report card that I thought was good enough, they might even get a chance to go to the movies with me. I was by no means their primary provider, not even close. But in the realm of “extra” things that our family couldn’t necessarily afford to do regularly, I was their guy!
The second and perhaps longer-lasting responsibility, the one I really learned in having this new job, was that of tithing. That’s a word that we don’t use in the greater culture, or at least not as much anymore. And while I had always known it was good to give unto God for the work and ministry of the church, getting a new job afforded the chance to learn from adults in my family that part of every budget I make and every dollar I earn should be earmarked to God. Surely it was easier to give to help others when I could dictate what that help looked like or who got it, but tithing was a spiritual discipline that taught me how to be a steward.
For the next number of weeks, we are going to talk about stewardship. Stewardship in Scripture is founded on the idea of us being a manager of everything with which God has blessed us. Our lives, our gifts, our resources, our hopes and dreams…all that we are, all that we have, all that we have been gifted, belongs to God. God created everything. God owns everything. God has chosen us to partner with him. We do so by consistently surrendering everything to God, and by stewarding everything God has gifted us.
Our next sermon series is entitled Called to Steward: Growing in Christlikeness, Caring, and Trust. Over the next weeks, we will be looking at God’s call for us to be stewards. We will be challenged and will learn together the importance of stewarding creation, our bodies, one another, our time, and a few more. We will begin, this week, by looking at our call to steward our resources. In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells a parable about a master and his three servants. The master, before setting out on a journey, entrusts wealth to each servant. As the parable unfolds, we learn about stewardship, what being a good and faithful servant looks like to Jesus.
I want to invite you to spend the rest of this week, reading and praying through Matthew 25:14-30. I want you to ask and work to answer these questions:
What does a good and faithful servant look like to Jesus?
What has God called me to steward for His kingdom?
How does sharing show caring?
How have I grown by sharing and caring for others?
One of the great blessings of our church is that we are a family committed to answering God’s call for us to be stewards. What we say, gift, and do partners with God to help us shine together so that our world may see, come to, and glorify our Father in heaven. …What we have given, gifted, and done has helped to make on earth as it is in heaven a little more real to our city, region, and even our world. …Sisters and brothers, what we will say, gift, and do will be used by the Spirit to bless others, to build God’s kingdom, and to knit us together as one to meet the physical and spiritual needs of our local and global communities.
God has blessed us with each other. We are blessed to do God’s work together.
God bless you all.
Love in Christ,
Pastor Hank (Acts 20:35)
P: (717) 561-2170, ext. 104