By Very Rev. Andrew Kemberling, V.F.
A sprituality is not a theology. A theology deals with ideas arranged in one’s mind, whereas a spirituality arranges actions that are centered in one’s heart. Stewardship is a practical spirituality with a set course of actions that enables parishioners to live it out. A season of “Stewardship Renewal” provides the steps needed to put into practice the spirituality of stewardship.
We said that, as a spirituality, stewardship means that we find meaning in our identity of creatures of God. We are not our own, we belong to God. God is a loving father who gives us everything that we need. The things we have are not ours either. They belong to God and he trusts us to use them wisely. This knowledge should manifest a detachment from material things and is called “evangelical poverty.” Stewardship encourages us to adopt this spirit of poverty. We are not actually poor, but we are spiritually poor. It’s easy to say that we are detached from things; it’s another to prove it. Stewardship says that we must give ten percent away (back to God) in thanksgiving for what God has given us. The proof that we are detached is our tithe.
Although everyone’s gift is not the same size because the gifts differ, everyone makes the same sacrifice of ten percent. This is the concept, not of equal gifts, but of equal sacrifice. There is much more to this spirituality, but its essence resides in evangelical poverty. Jesus himself says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3).
Talking to people of prosperity is what is normally done in middle-class America. We cannot let ourselves be fooled in believing that things are going to make us happy. They don’t, but people seem to chase foolishly this notion all their lives. I am convinced that stewardship will be the conversion of a materialistic world. It puts God first, not our things. When we give our tithe to the parish church, the church itself tithes by giving to others from an established charity account. This charity account allows a stewardship parish to assist our poor brothers and sisters at home and abroad. I’m sure that God in his goodness will bless His Church with the gifts given to good stewards.