Stewardship Sunday: My Favorite Sunday

There are many Sundays that get a lot of attention in the church calendar year. The first Sunday of Advent, Christmas, Easter…at our church we have a couple special celebrations Music Sunday, Heritage Sunday (coming November 4!).

But for my money (pun intended), Stewardship Sunday—this upcoming Sunday, October 28—is the best Sunday of the year.

Stewardship is not just a matter of responsibly allocating resources…it is a deeply Spiritual practice. It stems from the belief that God owns everything. We may receive gifts from time to time…they are ours to care for and use as we see fit…but they don’t actually belong to us. Everything comes from God, and everything is, eventually, given back to God.

That is, I think, as clear a definition of what our church is that we are likely to find. The First Congregational Church of Kittery at Kittery Point United Church of Christ is a place where people come together to care for all we have been given. That includes our money…deciding how to use it, where to spend and invest, how to do the most good we can for the most people possible, every year. It includes how we spend our lives…who gets our energy and attention? What gifts do we give to one another simply by being present? Our sense of love and justice…where do these gifts come from…who is deserving of sharing in them…how do we share them better?

On Stewardship Sunday, everyone in our church is invited to participate in wrestling with these questions together…by making a bold promise to one another…pledging to give of ourselves and our money to nurture one another and serve the world in the upcoming year together.

Let me share with you a quick word about why it is such a joy and an honor for me to celebrate Stewardship Sundays with this community: Because this is a community that follows through on its Pledges and its Promises. I have served churches in which money that is pledged at the beginning of the year doesn’t come in by the end of the year. That is not the case here. If anything, the pattern in our church seems to be that some folks will actually end up giving MORE than promised. Our Treasurer, Rick Leonard, shared with us in worship yesterday that most of the pledges we rely on for our annual budget—nearly 50% of them!—range from $1.00 to just under $1,000 each year. These two facts—that we have a near 100% success rate at following through with our pledges, and 50% of those who pledge are pledging in amounts they can afford to pay—speak volumes about who we are as a community, and how we practice our faith in this world.

All are welcome here. There is no such thing as a gift that is “too small.” Jesus taught us that God will use mustard seeds to overthrow empires. We are a people of promise and commitment. I think this means that when people in our community need assistance the most, they know they can count on us to be there. These are gifts that are priceless, of value beyond measure.

What will God call such a faithful and abundant community to do next? Join us this Sunday, and we will find out together!

Brian Gruhn