So teach us to number our days
that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
When my advisory committee and I finalized our topics for the six issues of 2009, little did we know what the world would be facing at the turn of the New Year.
Our discussion centered on several challenges facing the Christian faith, as well as the ELCA and other denominations. We eventually narrowed our challenges down to six. They include “The Challenge of...”
- the relevancy of faith today;
- loving both God and one’s nation;
- raising children today;
- connecting worship and our vocational callings;
- telling the biblical story of creation in a scientific world;
- and lastly, valuing stewardship’s assets, the focus of this issue.
Shortly after our meeting, our world took quite a turn!
With financial bubbles bursting in many directions in the latter part of 2008, we have a timely issue on our hands. Should not the issue of stewardship — which may be defined as the faithful and wise management of our life and resources which our God has entrusted us with for the benefit of our neighbors — be an essential element among leaders dealing with our global financial challenges?
Through our print and online formats, we examine a few areas where prudent stewardship is taking place in this church. These include: how this church (locally, synodically, and churchwide) is handling seminarian indebtedness; environmentally friendly practices in congregations/synods; the value of including estate planning in congregational life; and managing the human resource of people as Christ’s disciples through vital congregational mission and ministry.
In worship this week (Nov. 16, 2008), we read from Psalm 90. Even as I heard reminders of seeing life in terms of one’s mortality, what stood out even more was the Refrain taken from verse 12 — an appeal to apply the “heart” to wisdom. If we are to return to dust, what will we do with the time we have? How shall we manage that time and what choices shall we strive to make? And before we do die, what do we want to leave for our families, our faith communities, our towns, even our nation? What do we want our legacy to be?
The psalmist reminded me that steward-leaders are not only called to act faithfully in their management of God’s creation but also wisely.
Wisdom is deeply rooted in the Bible. While found in places such as Psalm 111 or Colossians 1:9, wisdom figures prominently in the Book of Proverbs, especially in the first nine chapters. In these chapters, Wisdom is personified. It speaks and makes its voice heard all over the place. It walks among us humans as a companion. It cries out to be first among all things.
But most significantly, its starting point is clear: it is found among those who place their “fear”—one’s deep love, awe, and respect—in the One who first gave us life and everything that is in it.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10).
|Web Alert: Estate Planning|
In “Estate Planning — Can It Make a Difference?” author Bernard Carl provides insight into how a ministry of estate planning has been beneficial to his congregation.
Very Popular Resource: Women of the ELCA has released a new DVD called “Created in God’s Image: A Community of Women,” which, according to Mary La Plante, director for marketing, has become one of the most requested resources produced by the Women of the ELCA. The video focuses on the relationship of the women’s organization with Lutheran World Relief, fair trade, Bible study, and advocacy, as well as a segment on college-age participants.
Fair Trade Clergy Shirts: Fair trade is a growing phenomenon around the world, a movement which helps producers in developing countries receive a fair price for goods and labor. For more information on fair trade, go to Lutheran World Relief’s website.
You might also want to check out a new fair trade item: clergy shirts. Butler and Butler, a family business in the United Kingdom, calls its Web site “the original Fair Trade Clergy Shirt site.” A certification logo for cotton marks the site.
William Decker is editor of Lutheran Partners and Lutheran Partners Online, Chicago, Illinois.
1. Psalm, Celebrate, Nov. 16, 2008.