Rev. Dr. DeWayne L. Davis
This Week at Plymouth, November 17, 2023
“Yes, stewardship is about church financial practices, but it is also about God’s sovereignty and human responsibility.” —Sheryl Johnson, Serving Money, Serving God
During this season of our church’s annual giving campaign, you can imagine how much I’ve been thinking about our role as stewards. Biblically and theologically, I’ve confidently proclaimed that we are the stewards of great blessings entrusted to us. Look all around us. All these great gifts and blessings—the air we breathe, the beauties of nature we enjoy, our relationships, our callings, our ministries, our building, and our very lives—are generously and graciously showered upon us. Do they serve only us, or do we manage these gifts and blessings faithfully to serve the purposes of God’s reign right here right now?
Over the last several weeks, we have heard from members of Plymouth the powerful impact of these gifts and blessings on their lives and communities. And yet, in reading our “Plymouth Reads” book selection, Serving Money, Serving God, I appreciate Sheryl Johnson’s invitation to examine our assumptions about stewardship, being mindful of the idols that could “prevent our pursuit of important values that arise from our faith, such as justice, equality, redistribution, reconciliation, and sustainability.” We have been shaped and conditioned by a Western capitalist economy that has tamed, domesticated, and commodified God’s abundant act of creation: We have made the bounty of the harvest into a scarce commodity, declaring that there isn’t enough to feed the hungry and provide for the needs of the weakest among us; we have distorted God’s call to humanity to serve the earth as a call to have dominion over it, causing us to exploit the earth and her resources. How can we confront this prevailing economic mindset that has the potential to divert us from our best intentions and most heartfelt aspirations for our beloved community? How do we avoid the stewardship idols (e.g., thinking more is better or embracing a rigid scarcity versus abundance binary) that make discussing finances difficult and divisive?
Yes, we are all stewards entrusted with everything that we have. What we do with the abundance that God generously gifted to us matters. We cannot ignore the reality of the hardness and idolatry of current economic arrangements, nor can we dismiss our differing orientations and ideologies about money, wealth, and abundance. However, we can discern what it means to love, serve, and give in ways that reflect the reign of God. With all that we have, we have a critical role to play in using our gifts and blessings to demonstrate to the world our commitments to justice, equality, redistribution, reconciliation, and sustainability. May the Holy One prompt us to imagine stewardship practices that draw us closer together, inspire new ways of loving, serving, and giving, and motivate us to pursue justice and beloved community.