Sermon for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
October 7, 2018
Gen 2:18-25, Mk 10:2-16
Stewardship As Love In Action
It may not seem apparent from the start that today’s readings are suitable for a sermon on stewardship because we don’t have any discussion about money, but marriage is a good place to begin an understanding of stewardship. Stewardship involves the commonly referred to time, talent and treasure, but if that is what we see when we think on stewardship, we have a rather narrow view of what stewardship is.
After God had formed every beast of the field, He brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. God put those animals in the charge of Adam. God never relinquished ownership of the animal kingdom or authority over them, but He gave Adam responsibility and authority over the animals and over the whole of the creation. They were not Adam’s possession, but Adam took to the responsibility as if they were his own. Adam received from God a stewardship that was not narrowed by time clock, perceived ability and interest, or by things that Adam himself valued. God gave Adam what was good and Adam received it as good.
The stewardship of God’s gifts would find greater meaning as Adam’s side would be opened and he would give of himself in the creation of his wife, Eve. Here, the care of God’s gifts take on an expanded understanding and appreciation in caring for the gift of his wife, Adam is now caring for himself, for his wife is truly a part of himself. The descendants of Adam would experience this as the ties to father and mother were loosed and the bond with wife became fast. Stewardship is rooted in marriage as Adam loves and cares for the wife that God gave him; the wife for which he gave of himself. The stewardship given by God is not for self, yet it is satisfying. It is the giving of self that does not diminish but rewards the giver. Marriage is sacrifice as husband loves and wife submits and their stewardship is expanded with the reward of children.
In our sinful nature, we do not wish to have such stewardship. We want rewards that cost us as little as possible. We desire satisfaction without having to love and give too much of our selves. The Pharisees exhibit this trait as they seek to find that which is permissible instead of what God explains as His will. They do not ask what God desires but seek to find a way around the commandment. In other words, they want to know what is the least that they have to do to still be considered good. If accepted faithfulness means that they can divorce their wives because they are childless or the meat she cooks is always tough, then they can feel good about themselves, even as they ruin her life. The sacrifice of love costs too much.
In the reading from Hebrews, we are reminded that everything was put in subjection under the feet of Jesus and that nothing was left outside His control (Heb 2:8). The Son was given stewardship of the creation which He loved to the full. This stewardship is not about dominating or subduing but about loving through sacrifice. Adam’s side was opened that his bride would be formed from his sacrifice; a stewardship as love in action. Even more, Jesus, who shares in our flesh, and who, in the sleep of death, had His side opened to produce blood and water, by which, His Bride is formed and sustained in font and from altar. This stewardship as love in action gives Jesus his reward – you, and all those like you for whom He died. He did not ask what is the least that I must do or give but He loved to the full that He might be the faithful steward over all that has been subjected to Him.
We are conditioned to always seek a return on our investments. We want recognition in our workplaces for the fantastic job that we do. We want to have rewards that confirm for us that what we are putting into things is worth our effort. Sometimes we are granted such rewards in this life as faithful stewards but not always. Even as we await seeing the fullness of the kingdom of God and the Bride for whom Christ died, so to we live in faith knowing that God sees all our efforts done in faith and will reward them in the age that is to come.