Courage to Love.
"'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" – Jesus, Mt.22:37b-39
Stewardship is the way in which we use all of the resources that God has entrusted to our care—ourselves, our time, and our money—so that we can love God and our neighbor. Top line: Stewardship is about courageous love.
Courage to Live.
"I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." – Jesus, Jn.10:10b
Jesus brings us not just forgiveness of our sins. Not just salvation and an ongoing relationship with a loving God. Not just eternal life after we die. Jesus brings us abundant life. Right now. Stewardship is about courageous living.
Courage to Give.
"And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work." – Paul, 2 Cor. 9:8
When we realize that all we have belongs to God and not to us, we can't help but give it away in thanksgiving for God's generosity to us. We give joyfully, graciously and sacrificially because we know that our resources are not ours to keep but are God's to share. Stewardship is about courageous giving.
The 2022 theme at Messiah revolves around the word "courage." Kathy and I think the theme is supremely apropos as the world continues to wrestle a stubborn pandemic.
Stewardship is an expansive activity all Christians practice. It is everything we do after we say "I believe." So, we encourage you to ponder the topic of courage as it relates to your life. We encourage you to converse with others about it. And we invite you to decide how your recognition of how God has gifted you and always replaces our fear with faith will influence all the ways you will go about loving, living, and giving this new year.
A while back, when the congregation launched what would become Jubilee Collective, I remember a member of the Church Leadership Team saying, "Well, we're going to go big or go home." His remark was courageous, inspiring, and reflected a faith that typifies the Messiah community when we are at our best.
When it comes to being courageous, inspired, and intentional in giving away one's money, everybody knows that planned giving is best. It takes a bit of courage to make a pledge, return an offering regularly, and trust that God will multiply its benefits for others and yourself. However, Kathy and I can tell you from personal experience that pledging builds the spiritual muscles that always create greater faith and combats the fear that hardens our hearts and robs us of joy in the present and hope for the future. If you are new to making a plan for giving or haven't got around to doing what you've done for years, Kathy and I sincerely hope you will complete a 2022 financial statement of intent form (click here ») to take a step away from fear and toward the faith God has given you.
Even as it still feels like we live in the time between what the Church used to be and do and how it will emerge in the future, we invite you to courageously invest yourself, your time, and your money in what will most certainly succeed. The Holy Spirit will make sure of this. Christ's Church has weathered way worse over the centuries. We stand in a long line of courageous people dating back to a handful of women and men who were at first fearful at the sight of an empty tomb and then went on to change the world. Through them, the Holy Spirit began a movement that has been unshakable in the face of challenge and adversity, a people dedicated to and propelled forward by the proclamation that in Christ, fear and death are never the final word. We invite you to join them in courageously loving, living, and giving.
Yours in Christ, Prs. Peter and Kathy Braafladt
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