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By a vote of the vast majority of the presbyteries this month, the PC(USA) has added a new phrase to the ministry of members section of the Book of Order (G-1.0304), although the idea and the need to do this has been contained in the Directory for Worship (W-7.5000) since reunion in 1989, so a mandated part of our church order. The phrase is “caring for God’s creation”, but what it really means is stewardship. Stewardship is caring for and using properly that which another owns. All creation is really God’s!

We Reformed/Presbyterian folks have taken to be foundational to our understanding of being a Christian the mandate in Genesis (Genesis 2:15) to care for the earth and the stories of Jesus and writings of Paul that call us stewards and not masters of what we have. In fact, one of the most basic tenets or teachings of our church has always been “A faithful stewardship that shuns ostentation and seeks the proper use of the gifts of God’s creation” (F-2.05) sometimes shor tened to “stewardship is an act of worship” (W-7.5003) One of the first things John Calvin did in Geneva when setting up the church was establish deacons and public works in the city to care for the people and the earth—the first official act of the Geneva church was to make a public sewer system to improve health and the welfare of all. We have been stewards of creation since we started!

What does it mean to be stewards? Well, for starters as in all things, it means proper perspective. God is first, not us. God is the one who has and creates and sustains all of creation. We have nothing but our sin to claim as our own in reality. Everything else is a gift from God given for God’s purpose. Stewardship is not really asking how much you will give, how much you will care for, how much you will dedicate to God. It is really about asking how much of God’s gifts will you hoard for yourself and how much will you share and use with others. All our money, talents, resources, and time are God’s not ours!

Think of that—a tithe (10% of earnings and holdings) is not really us giving money to God, but us claiming 90% of what God has given us. Imagine if employees claimed all the profits and revenue except 10%--would that seem right to you?

Here are some things to consider in making proper use, showing proper care of creation:

  • Do you watch your energy use? Do you limit the electricity, water, and other resources you use? Electronics are good tools, but do you spend too much time with them?
  • Do you recycle and reuse? Do you try to find sustainable and natural things to use?
  • Do you only take and use what you need? Do you limit your lifestyle instead of make an “ostentatious show” of it? Do you regularly reduce the material things you have and share them with others? Do you curb your consumer mentality and instead adopt a simple one?
  • When you take trips, do you set aside 10% of the cost and give it back to God? Do you always include prayer time and worship in trips? Do you consider wise use of time making quality time more a priority than quantity of time?
  • Do you plant and garden? Do you farm? Do you clean up the environment? Do you ask yourself about littering?
  • Do you share and budget your money in generous ways? Do you contribute both time and money to causes that God is calling you to do? Do you pray about your spending?

In worship and ministry as members, let’s take this time to recommit ourselves to live as God’s stewards until the day when God will make all things new. (W-7.5002)

-Pastor Tim

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