Monday, December 6, 2010

On Christian Stewardship I

Dear Parish Faithful,

Recently, I have been reading some excellent articles about the meaning, purpose and practice of Christian stewardship. This is about the offering of our "time, talent and treasure," ultimately to God, within the context of our life in the Church. One such article was written by Fr. Stanley Harakas, a noted Greek Orthodox theologian who writes prolifically about the ethical content of our Orthodox Christian Faith; what we "ought" and "ought not" to do as Christians. The article is entitled "Ethics and Stewardship." Toward the end of the article, Fr. Harakas offers a series of seven short meditations, based on a passage from St. Paul: II COR. 9:16. In doing so, Fr. Harakas is further expanding on an internet presentation from October, 2000, called Dynamis for Orthodox Christians. The author of that internet biblical meditation is David Patton. I would like to share these seven meditations - hopefully on a daily basis - with all of you as you consider your role as Christian stewards, and as you prayerfully make decisions on your own sharing of "time, talent and treasure" within the context of parish membership. The italicized portion comes from the original meditation and Fr. Harakas' expanded commentary follows:

Godly Giving: II Corinthians 9:6-11, especially vs. 10, "Now may he who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness." Today's passage from the Apostle Paul encourages us to look deeply into our motives for giving. His words are greatly illuminated when read in terms of seven prescriptions for godly giving, each of them derived directly from the Apostle's words and intent.

"As seen from the title, the theme of this meditation is "Godly Giving," placing it in the framework of the stewardship practices of individual persons or family units in regard to their financial contributions to the church and to charities and to those in need. The meditation is on a classic passage for church stewardship and reflection, II Corinthians 9:6-11. The focus is on motives and intents, essential dimensions of Orthodox Christian ethics. Critical aspects of ethical evaluation of behaviors are the nature and quality of the inner dispositions that guide actions. For Christianity, especially, according to the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount, inner dispositions are paramount. The author rightfully emphasizes this ethical dimension as the starting point for discussing how the Orthodox Christian "ought" to give in the practice of stewardship. Precisely because the meditation is about "godly giving," the discussion is placed within the framework of the Orthodox Christian understanding of growing in the image and likeness of God. Giving by Orthodox Christians ought to be reflective of the way God gives to us. Stewardship is an aspect of our growth toward God-likeness, or theosis."

Fr. Steven

Read the entire series: Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI

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