Christ Is Risen!
A person said “I want to be saved but I do not know the way to salvation.” Brother! Through the Holy Scriptures and through our fathers God has shown us the way to salvation saying “Ask your father, and he will show you; your elders, and they will tell you.” So if you wish not to go astray on the path of salvation, do nothing without asking the spiritual fathers and you will not err, thanks to the grace of God.
One who is baptized cuts himself off from all earthly hopes and supports, and lives in this age as if in a desert, not tied to anything. His heart is not on the earth – it is totally in that age. All that is here touches him in passing, so that having a wife, he is as if he had none; buying, he as though possessing nothing. In general, he uses the world as though he did not use it.
During this Lenten season, reflect on Saint Theophan’s words and consider your Stewardship of Time to focus on the Heavenly and not the earthly. For everything on the earth is temporary and will pass away!
… The Lord tells us that those who sell all their possessions and distribute them to the poor become perfect and complete. In doing so, they lay up treasures for themselves in Heaven. He says that those who follow Him… and aren’t entangled in worldly possessions… accompany their possessions which they send to God. For such a reward, let us all prepare ourselves, learn to pray and discern from our prayers what we should become… for He promises that all things will be added to those who seek God’s kingdom and righteousness.
Saint Cyprian s reflection on Luke 12:16-21
When a tailor makes and sells a garment, only one service is performed, that of putting clothes on the body. The same is true of the cobbler making and selling a pair of shoes; the only service in this case is to put shoes on the feet. But when a person makes a gift to another person, of money or some object, a double service is performed. First, the receiver derives a material benefit from the gift. Second, the giver derives a spiritual benefit because this act of generosity would have brought a blessing to his soul. And there can be a third service: if the receiver is filled with humble gratitude, that will be a blessing to the person’s soul. Imagine a society in which no one sold anything but everyone shared freely their skills and wealth. Then every action in that society would bring not only material benefits, but spiritual benefits also. Such societies already exist in miniature; families operate in this way. How wonderful it would be if villages and towns could become like large families. Then Heaven would come down to earth.
St John Chrysostom
Have a blessed New Year and allow your Stewardship to focus on your parish, those in need and the many ministries supported within the Orthodox Church!
Why did the man who asked the Lord about eternal life go away sorrowful when he heard that he must sell everything and give it to the poor in order to be saved? For it is one thing to avoid gaining what we want, but it is another thing to give away that which has become a part of us. The former action is like declining food, the latter is like cutting off an arm.
The one who does good works becomes rich for the sake of God by pleasing Him. He becomes rich in God, attracting His goodwill. He becomes rich from God, Who makes one who is faithful over a few things ruler over many things. He becomes rich toward God, not himself, for he does not consider himself to be the owner, but only a steward and an accountant, whose entire concern consist in satisfying all who come to Him in need. But he fears spending anything special on himself, considering it to be an improper use of the property entrusted to him.
Saint Theophan the Recluse
For what do we gain by acquiring things that we cannot take with us? Why not get the things we can take with us instead – namely wisdom, justice, self-control, courage, understanding, love, kindness to the poor, faith in Christ, freedom from wrath and hospitality? If we possess these things, they will prepare a welcome for us in the land of the humble.
“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do it” (Proverbs 3:27).
The Lord does not deny you that which you need, neither should you deny the man whom the Lord has sent to encounter you in order to test your heart. If a beggar extends his hand to you for help once in your life, give to him and do not refuse. Remember how many years there are in your life and how many are the hours in a day and how many are the minutes in an hour-every minute of so many, many thousands of days you extend your hand to the Lord and the Lord gives and does not refuse. Remember the mercy of God and your lack of mercy will burn you as a live coal and it will never give you any peace until you repent and soften your heart.
During many discussions related to Stewardship – I have been asked why? Why the change from membership? Why is Stewardship so important? Why do I have to worry about my Time, Talents and Treasures? How and why is Stewardship related to my Salvation?
My personal response has been – “I worry about my Salvation each and every day and I understand when I stand before the dread judgment seat of Christ, I will be asked about many things, including my works and what I did with what God provided.” Everything that we have belongs to God. It’s on loan for this very short period of time we are here on earth. If we truly strive for the Heavenly and seek His Eternal Kingdom, let’s focus on being great caretakers of God’s possessions! We are responsible!
One unique responsibility of a Steward is to support the Church’s ministries through the giving of his or her Time and Talents. These ministries vary across all parishes – some are well known while others support a specific need within the community.
Stewards may not be aware of all of the ministries that they can support, which is why a parish may consider hosting a Ministry Sunday. The primary objective is to have ministry representatives available for discussion, answer questions, provide materials and allow the Stewards to volunteer. Many parishes have benefited from fellowship, stronger bonds and greater support of all of the ministries.
Whether is it held during a coffee hour using a few tables or in the Church’s social hall with a table representing each ministry, this is a blessed opportunity to provide a learning experience. Each Steward can proceed from table to table; ask questions and sign up for what he or she is most interested in.