Each year when we gather around the theme of stewardship, we are grateful for the church. We are thankful for its commitment and generosity, as we live into what it means to be a congregation. We give thanks for the shared journey of faith. We share this journey because we are bound to one another by the grace of God, which is the reason we gather.
We are thankful for this place and its people, and we recognize how the congregation tends to the needs of this place. Whether it is working behind-the-scenes or where we might notice, each hand is valued. We tend to the needs of this place together, like a gardener tending to his or her yard.
One writer describes the meaning of this work. Elias Amidon writes, “The view from the handle of my shovel helped me love each place I made home, and the sound of my neighbor’s shovels working next to me did the same.” The work of a shovel is not heroic. It does not draw attention, but it is necessary. It requires commitment and diligence, but at the end of the day, it cultivates love for a place. As we view stewardship as a way of life, where our presence or prayers, contributions or concerns, have purpose and meaning, we foster our love for this place. In sharing this with others, like our neighbor’s shovel, we also deepen our love for the people of this place.
With our shovels in hand, we can dig in to a place. We can share this journey with others, and can deepen our thanksgiving. Amidon also writes, “By learning to dig in – literally and figuratively – I became a neighbor: living under the same weather, walking on the same ground, sharing the patience needed to live in a place and care for it.” Digging in sounds like our journey together, or the calling of stewardship, which builds the community of faith.
We become neighbors to one another in the deepest meaning of the word. We also become neighbors to the surrounding community, serving and tending to the needs close by and far away. Through the shared journey of faith, we provide support to each other. We celebrate with one another. We grieve with one another. We learn from each other, and we serve together. We learn to work and walk on the same ground in the name of Christ.