It’s October. In many churches, including ours, that means stewardship month.
- I kind of like stewardship month
- it inspires me to recall what stewardship is
- the acknowledgement that all that I have was given to me by God
- I am not really the owner of my own property
- I am a steward of God’s resources
- it also inspires me to examine whether I am being a responsible steward
- am I administering God’s resources in a way that honors God
I also like stewardship month b/c the lectionary hands us passages like Matt 21:33-46.
- the parable of the tenants
- Jesus tells this parable in the temple
- his audience = the chief priests and Pharisees
- Israel’s liturgical functionaries and teachers
- the parable is about them, and they know it <v. 45>
- and it really gets under their skin
- so let’s try to figure out what Jesus is saying to them
- that’s how the parable begins
- but it’s a parable, not meant to be taken literally
- the story of the landowner and the vineyard illustrates something else
- specifically, God and Israel
- just as a landowner plants a vineyard, God has established the people of Israel
- and the landowner does what any farmer or gardener would do <v. 33b>
- he protects his property and prepares to collect the produce
If the landowner is God and the vineyard is Israel, then what is the produce?
- it’s not exactly clear
- the temple worship; the prayers and sacrifices of grain and animals
- the deeds of righteousness and mercy that God prizes above sacrifice
- whatever it is, it’s Israel’s obligation to God
- what God is entitled to receive from his people
And then there are the tenants, who are tending the vineyard.
- they would be the chief priests and Pharisees; the religious leaders
- the stewards of God’s people Israel
- their responsibility: to see that God receives the produce from his vineyard
- prayers; sacrifice; deeds of righteousness and mercy
- but they don’t; they are faithless stewards
- God will kill them and replace them with faithful stewards
So. That’s the message to the chief priests and Pharisees. What’s the message for us?
- I think there’s a message for us as individuals and as a corporation
First, there’s a message about individual stewardship.
- God has made each of us tenants of a vineyard – our lives, labors, resources
- whatever we have belongs to God, and we are his stewards
- Paul even says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? Therefore glorify God with your body.”
- Paul calls us to glorify God
- and Jesus calls us to be faithful stewards of all that God has given us
- as the old hymn goes, “We give thee but thine own, whate’er the gift may be. All that we have is thine alone; a trust, O Lord, from thee.”
- So do we acknowledge all that God has given to us?
- Do we administer God’s gifts in a way that honors God?
That’s the message about individual stewardship.
Then there’s a message about corporate stewardship.
- we, the people of St. James’, are stewards of God’s work in this parish
- God’s vineyard for us
- it’s interesting to figure out the geography of our parish
- the boundaries lie roughly between us and other churches/dioceses
- N: Duck Lake; E: Parma Rd.; S: T Drive South; W: 22-Mile Road
- Albion, Homer, Concord, Springport
- in this “vineyard,” we are called to maintain regular services of Holy Eucharist and daily prayer; pastoral care; ministry to those in need; and witness to the good news of Jesus Christ
- this is why we pay our rector and church staff
- it’s why we keep our facilities in good repair
- it’s why we host Community Suppers and support Community Gardens and offer a summer literacy program
- it’s why we participate in Albion Interfaith Ministries and take our place in the work of our diocese
- Paul also says that our church is God’s temple, and God’s Spirit dwells in us
- so that our church is not really our church
- we are God’s church, called together in this parish to do God’s work
As individuals, then, let’s acknowledge with thanksgiving all that God has given to us.
Let’s manage our lives, our labor, and our resources in a way that honors God.
And as God’s people at St. James’, let’s keep serving him in our parish.
Together, let’s give our lives, labor, and resources for God’s work in and around Albion.
Let’s answer God’s call to give him the produce at the harvest time. Amen.