Neh. 12:27-31a,42b-47; Rev. 11:1-19; Matt. 13:44-52
Today it is clear we are in a season of stewardship, a season of harvest and plenty. The earth gives us signs of the harvest all around, as the trees and the weather turn.
Then I turned to our readings for today. In Nehemiah the city wall is dedicated and it is a time of rejoicing, thanksgiving, and giving. Matthew is all about stewardship with kingdom parables of treasure.
Three short parables in Matthew, each begin “the kingdom of heaven is like….”
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” The kingdom is not guaranteed and safe. It is accessible to some. One must be persistent. Work is involved.
So too the kingdom is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, and he finds a big one. The kingdom is also like a net that is thrown into the sea and catches fish of every kind.
It is apparent that “fruit” is important – to produce, to claim value and worth, or to be worth something. There are divides – good and evil, rich and poor, joy and sadness. Producing fruit means there are decisions to be made. In short, we are called to be fruity!
As I write to you, I have a letter from the Stewardship Committee and Bennie Drake in front of me on the desk. They spoke of setting priorities, of being workers in the kingdom, and spreading faith. It was a powerful letter, and it reminded me that much of being a Christian today is about taking risks. Being a Christian is not meant to be flashy and bring one glory. It is meant to bring God glory. For us it means simplicity, generosity, humility – as we face the awesome work that God is up to all around us.
If we were to listen to the voices of the world, we would end up building ourselves up, hoarding resources for ourselves, and we would see ourselves in competition with the community and people around us, rather than partners in God’s grace.
That is not what God calls us to.
Furthermore, we are called not to bury treasure, but to be fruitful, to be bold, to be forward looking, to be self-less, to look for value where others have forgotten.
We are to produce fruit through risk and conviction. We are to give thanks for the abundance we have this harvest season, renewing our covenant with God who gave us everything.
That is a tall order! I pray that you will find strength and courage in this stewardship season. We have an exciting year ahead.
If you would like to be a part of the Stewardship Campaign at First Presbyterian Church in Duncan, Oklahoma where I am the pastor, I would welcome your support. Click here for the letter/pledge card: https://mattmeinkedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/2018-stewardship.pdf