Stewardship beyond St. Andrew’s walls

I admit, I’m one of those people who loves Fall. I love the cooler weather, the changing of the leaves, and perhaps most of all, the implicit promise that what withers and dies this season will be renewed in Spring. As you may or may not know, Fall at St. Andrew’s includes a couple of notable things: our Celtic Faire, and our focus on stewardship.

Stewardship is an important topic that has many meanings and applications throughout our congregation and community. Normally we tend to think of it in terms of how we can financially support and serve our own fellowship here, and while I do not intend to take away from this important focus, I would like to extend it and tie it into to a few of our other values in order to point it in a slightly broader direction—one that has been on my mind and heart a lot lately.

Stewardship—the care and supervision of something—can be linked to one of the ways of love we’ve been discussing: Bless. While the Episcopal Church website defines “Bless” (in the context of the Way of Love) as to “share faith and unselfishly give and serve,” a broader definition of blessing is “to confer or invoke divine favor upon; ask God to look favorably on.” (Dictionary.com) So as we think about the ways in which we as individuals can care for and serve St. Andrew’s, so that in turn St. Andrew’s can care for, serve, and bless the surrounding community, I’d like for us to keep in mind one further way to look at stewardship—one that connects to our Celtic values as well: care for the Earth.

As I don’t see stewardship as a partisan issue, I have no qualms about taking this concept and applying it to the world around us, and encouraging others to do the
same. However, recent events and political discussions have left some Christians divided on how to view the crisis that is being presented to us by climate scientists. One important thing to consider while we navigate this conversation is that whether you agree with them or not, many young people today are very concerned about climate change. A recent Washington Post/Kaiser Family Poll shows that it has become a major fear and concern of a large percentage of teenagers, many of whom have taken action (in the form of a walk out, protest, or other political action) to express their views and hopefully incite change. As such, I believe it is something we should bear in mind as we seek to engage and shepherd the young people of St. Andrew’s and our larger community.

Often when I was younger and I felt concern for the environment, certain pockets of the Church made me feel as though such problems ultimately didn’t matter. For reasons of varying theology, I was made to feel silly and foolish for caring about the destruction of the planet and its resources; the reply I typically received was along the lines of “God has it all under control, and after all, this world was not really our home! Don’t worry about it!” This discouraged and even silenced me for a while. Thankfully, in the years since then, I have discovered that it is quite easy to love both Jesus and this planet, and that there are other Christians who share my concerns. In fact, one of the things I loved in my first few visits to St. Andrew’s were the Prayers of the People, which cover a wide range of topics close to my heart. However, I particularly noticed that of the six different forms, over half of them address the concept of caring for the Earth:

5 Form I: “For the good earth which God has given us, and for the wisdom and will to

conserve it, let us pray to the Lord.” (BCP, 384)

Form IV: “Give us all a reverence for the earth as your own creation, that we may use

its resources rightly in the service of others and to your honor and glory.” (BCP, 388)

Form V: “For a blessing upon all human labor, and for the right use of the riches of creation, that the world may be freed from poverty, famine, and disaster, we pray to you, O Lord.” (BCP, 390)

Form VI: “In peace, we pray to you, Lord God…For the just and proper use of your creation.” (BCP, 392)

Of course, I could also take up a good chunk of the Tartan also citing different scriptures which highlight the idea that it is our job (specifically as followers of Christ) to care for God’s creation, and we have already been studying and continue to explore scrip- tures which charge us with being good stewards. I look forward to the conversations we can have on the topic of our stewardship in many areas, and I appreciate you being a part of this discussion so far.

Perhaps we could consider a few things moving forward:

1. In what ways, both large and small, can we as members of St. Andrew’s continue to contribute to the care and stewardship of the earth?

2. Since the most recent stats show that a large percentage of American Christians (particularly evangelicals) do not yet consider climate change a real threat, how can we use our unique Episcopal theology (evidenced in the BCP) to challenge and encourage the larger church in the US to consider the care of the earth as part of Christ’s calling to us?

3. How can we encourage and engage the youth of St. Andrew’s and Tacoma on issues of environmental stewardship?