Now that 2020 is behind us and we are looking forward to the opportunities that 2021 will present, we have one foot in the past and one foot in the future. Last year the members of Our Saviour participated in a year-long emphasis of "Living a Life of Stewardship" with a different form of stewardship highlighted each month. In 2021 The Discipleship Committee challenges each and every member (and guest) to continue being a Good Steward as is expected by God. Below you will see a recap of each month's Stewardship Challenge from 2020.
Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God's mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.1 Corinthians 4:1–2
During the month of January we challenge you to think about what a steward actually is and how you can personally be a Good Steward, helping to take care of all that God has made and presented to us. Each and every one of us can be more aware of Stewardship.
During the month of February we challenge you to intentionally set aside time to call upon friends and family whom you do not often contact. Tell them that you care what is going on in their lives, that you love them, and that you just want to talk with them. Do not wait until it is no longer an option. For those whom you see daily, tell them that you love them. This is another way to joyfully respond to what God has given and done for you.
The Spring Cleaning Day has been canceled due the COVID-19 closure.
Our Saviour Lutheran Church is God's house, and we need to care for it as we do for other creations that God has given us. Church committees and personnel have actively been doing this:
Dana performs regularly custodial duties, the Thursday Morning Men's Group tackle small projects that always need to be addressed (e.g. updated the sanctuary lighting), the Property Committee added a center handrail on the stairs leading to the altar as a safety measure, the Worship & Music Committee had the organ looked over for a much needed "wellness check", and the Council is currently investigating options for a carpet and such in the fellowship hall.
Whether or not you are involved with any of those wonderful tasks, there will be a great opportunity this month for everyone in the congregation to take part in caring for God's house. A Spring Cleaning Day is coming up on March 21 starting at 9:00 a.m. Bring your window cleaning supplies, your swiffers for dusting, and a joyful willingness to clean. It should be a fun morning with your Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
During the month of April we challenge you to tend to your personal relationship with God. Our personal prayer life is what helps us cope. It helps us look to the future and gives us hope. Continue to read your personal devotions. You can also find a "Daily Devotion" at our website under the "Resources" menu. The more that you talk with and depend upon God, the more you will find yourself developing an attitude of joy and thanksgiving. No matter the conditions or circumstances surrounding us, God is right there beside us.
During the month of May we challenge you to tend to the health of your bodies—both the physical and the mental health. This is even more important during this time of anxiety, uncertainty, and even fear, which has totally changed our normal routines. ...
Last month's "Living a Life of Stewardship" emphasis was about strengthening our relationship with God. With all that we have experienced in the last month, we need this relationship, our faith, and hope even more. May's emphasis is about taking care of our bodies—yes, even during a time of self sheltering and social distancing. I don't know about you, but we in the Discipleship Committee have tended to be less physically active and have been eating a lot more "junk" food. That is not healthy for anyone. And with all of the anxiety and fear that we might experience during this time, our mental health can be affected as well as our physical health.
So what can we do during this time?
- If possible, go out for a short walk (while wearing your mask and keeping a 6-foot distance from others). The physical activity will burn calories, give your body more energy, allow you to enjoy the sun, and encourage you to enjoy God's creation.
- Take some deep breaths—all the way down to your tummy. Your body needs that oxygen to perform well.
- When inside, do some exercises while standing or sitting in a chair (if you do not have an exercise area in your home). Do arm exercises, march in place, draw the letters of the alphabet with your feet by moving your ankles, stand by a chair and do some gentle lunges or squats.
- How about turning on some music and dance or just move to the music.
Be creative! Increasing your blood flow will help your body to feel better. But remember that with what we are experiencing right now we will act and respond differently than we usually do. Right now different has become normal. This means that you may notice that your sleep is different. You may feel more tired and less motivated. Your concentration may have diminished and you may find yourself wondering where the day went. These are considered typical reactions to uncertain times such as these. We also must remember that we may have more worry and restlessness during these times. Many things that we have taken for granted and considered regular aspects of our day-to-day lives are now very different. Be aware of how you feel, both physically and mentally, talk with God and pray for people by name, and intentionally motivate yourself.
Here are some helpful online articles that offer ways to cope during this time:
- CDC – Mental Health and Coping during COVID-19
- Child Mind Institute – How Mindfulness Can Help Duing COVID-19
- A collection of meditations, sleep, and movement exercises from Headspace.com
- Free meditations & mobile app from Breath.com to help learn meditaion and mindfulness
- Insight Timer – A free meditation app for sleep, relax, and more
- An app for meditaion and sleep from Calm.com
Special thank you to Marilyn Nelson and Mark Benson for their contributions to this message from the Discipleship Committee.
For the month of June we challenge you to help take care of planet earth. God made the planet and expects us to take care of it. Once COVID-19 is behind us we can always use reusable bags for grocery shopping, and we can bring our own reusable cups with us to church instead of using Styrofoam cups. Instead of using items in aerosol cans, look for alternatives such as pump sprays.
When you have a choice between driving a vehicle or riding a bicycle (or walking) don't drive. Driving can pollute the air. Besides, using calories will help lose some of the weight that you might have added during the time of staying at home.
During this time of self-isolation, have you been doing spring cleaning or planning on replacing any appliances or furniture? Recycling takes many forms. If you have put aside things that are still quite usable but just don't fit your lifestyle anymore, think of places where you can donate these items. Remember that Habitat for Humanity's Restore takes all types of donations, and the money that they receive through the sale of the donations goes back into their Habitat projects. Also, Recycling for Families accepts, repairs, and offers an array of items to families in need who are referred to them.
Summer is here, and we are very thankful that we can be outside more to soak up the sunshine and enjoy nature as God intended. July's stewardship emphasis is the animals, birds, and creatures that God created and placed on earth. God expects us to help care for them—even the not so pleasant looking spiders, bugs, reptiles, and rodents. They were made with a purpose by God. So think of ways that you can fulfill God's expectation. We read in Genesis that on the 6th day God made man in His image and gave us "dominion" over all of the other creatures. Part of the definition of "dominion" is to watch over. During the month of July please search for ways that you can watch over all of the living, breathing creatures that God created before He created mankind.
As you look back over the past 5+ months what do you see and feel? Do you feel grief, sadness, anger, or loneliness? Those are all powerful emotions, as are love, acceptance, self-worth, and joy. God gave us the ability to feel and recognize all of these emotions so God must expect us to learn from them. Why not name them before God and ask how you can use those emotions to grow into the person that God made you to be? If you are lonely or depressed with all of the sheltering, pick up the phone and call a fellow church member or relative (looking outward rather than inward). Or perhaps you can surprise someone by sending them a card and including a short note of encouragement. The best self-encouragement is encouraging someone else, and meaning it. Instead of feeling anger and resentment over what you haven't been able to do, ask God to help be more attuned to different things you can do. (Perhaps you will be led into more prayer time, both for youself and others. Perhaps you will be led to spread positive thoughts and joy among those whom you are allowed to interact with. Only God knows where this will lead.) This time of interruption of our lives is also a time of slowing down and looking around us to see what God is doing. This can be an exciting time of learning, and you will be amazed at how you truly can live a life of stewardship, even in the midst of a pandemic!
Stewardship is not just giving money, as has been demonstrated through the months prior to this. God expects that we give him The First Fruits—in other words that we pledge our monetary percentage first. Many of us have become accustomed to accumulating items (wants vs. needs) and living a life of convenience; whereas, the Bible tells us that God expects us to examine our lives for our priorities. And by being good stewards with our money (the first fruits), we are part of the whole church who is tending to the "other" in our society, who is fighting against social injustice, who is providing programs to further individuals' faith walk, to partner with other churches in the world, and the list goes on and on. We as God's children have a responsibility to be good stewards of God's creation and pledging an amount to the church assists stewardship on a larger scale.
As you look back over your life leading up to the person that you are today, do any particular people stand out in your memory as being a large influence on how you have grown in your faith, your values, and your vocation? They could be religious leaders (Pastors, Bishops, etc.), teachers, relatives, friends, etc. Why not remember them in prayer, or let them know how much they helped you?
November's stewardship emphasis is relating to and examining our relationships with others while also examining our own life in Jesus Christ. We will be celebrating All Saints' Day on the first of November. On this day we often remember our loved ones who left this earth during the past year, or even before, and we remember how their faithful life helped form ours. But this celebration is for ALL saints—meaning all who have been baptized in Jesus Christ. We are ALL saints and sinners and we are ALL saved by grace, not our works. So when we celebrate All Saints' Day this year, please take the time to remember those special people whose faith served as a guide for you as you continue to develop your faith. But also remember that we are ALL connected to each other, through our Lord. We ALL recognize Ash Wednesday when we are reminded from whence we came, and we ALL celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, which gives us assurance of everlasting life. So this year on All Saints' Day, take the time to remember those of the past, those of the now, and those of the future. We are ALL connected and, through our faith, deserving of prayer and remembrance.
This month's challenge was influenced by a 2019 article in Living Lutheran and a 2020 article in Gather Magazine.
What do you usually think of when you hear the phrase "2020 Vision"? Do you think of having perfect vision? After the past year, it can bring to mind something very different.
Back in January the Discipleship Committee challenged you to live a life of Stewardship throughout this year. The year of 2020 has been more challenging than any previous year that we have experienced, but Living a Life of Stewardship helps us recognize that God is always with us, is involved in our lives, and gives us the assurance that God will bring us through this dark time and will reveal the good that God has brought forth. Think back to the beginning of this year and compare it to this month of December. What have you learned about Stewardship? Have you adopted any new practices? Do you find yourself viewing Stewardship differently now than you did 12 months ago? If so, then you are looking at the world through different eyes (your vision has changed), and that difference happened during the year of 2020. So eagerly look forward to 2021 as you use your "2020 Vision" and walk hand-in-hand with God toward the future that is planned for you.
Please take time to review all of the challenges that were given this year; you can find them listed below. We hope you have a Happy New Year!