By Ven. Kim Van Allen
How do we talk about stewardship during an international pandemic?
People are willingly isolating themselves from one another to protect everyone. Children are home or need day-time care, lay-offs affect family incomes, business owners face loss too. Worship and prayer have become a personal thing rather than the body gathered. The weekly trip to the grocery store is a risk rather than a joy or a simple necessity these days. I would never have imagined ordering my groceries on-line for pickup, but today it seems like the right thing to do for all involved.
Three members of my parish died within the first two weeks of worship suspension. Helping families and parishioners cope with their loss at a time when funerals cannot happen again is a new element to ministry.
Yet we are creating new ways, even if only temporarily. We are doing what we can to support one another, proclaim the gospel, worship at home, feed the hungry, comfort those who mourn, and keep the faith. Phone calls, cards, text messages, emails, bowl of home-made beans or stew from a neighbour left on the front porch ~ all of these are ways you have so beautifully enabled community to happen in spite of it all. Bless you.
You see, stewardship is really what we decide to do with what we have. Whether we are talking about your time, energy, skills, physical ability, property, or money – what you do with what you have is stewardship.
Jesus tells us that where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. What we value orients where our life is spent. Helping one another as you do so very well is one of the ways you exercise stewardship. You express love for neighbour with great generosity.
In time, history will tell us how we did in our response to COVID-19. Your church’s ministry continues even though we cannot gather together in our usual ways. Leadership, prayer, worship, and pastoral support carry on in new ways. A great deal of thought, discussion, and time have been devoted to determine how ministry will carry on! Our norms have shifted and that shift has required some thinking!
Church is still happening and is still making a difference in people’s lives. How you are involved in these new ways is yours to decide. Will you continue to support God’s work through your church even though we cannot gather on Sunday morning? Trust me, communities do not want to lose their churches. All the things you do to care for others, offer hospitality to your neighbourhood or other caring groups, the prayers you pray, the encouragement you offer, the hope you bear ~ all of this proclaims the faith you have embraced.
This is how we talk about stewardship in a time of crisis. Ministry carries on because we are grounded in God’s life-giving ways revealed to us through Jesus Christ. Participate in the ways you still can in these strange times. Your gift of time, energy, and money may be different now, but will contribute to the ministry offered by your church.
Ven. Kim Van Allen is a member of the Stewardship Committee
(Featured photo: Steve Johnson/Unsplash)