On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 27: Time and Talent I
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6 RSV)
One goal of every Orthodoxy faith community is to provide the structure and opportunities to help each and every one of us grow into true disciples of Jesus Christ. As an aid for this journey of growth, every Orthodox person is expected to live out his or her faith actively in this parish community. Every member of every parish is challenged to live their Orthodoxy to the fullest by serving that community. This means serving by various means: reaching out to others and focusing less on self; sharing our God-given talents within the parish community; serving the needs of all. A true disciple has no other choice.
Valentine Zander tells this story about St. Seraphim of Sarov, 18th century Russian monk and saint: The care of the two churches was entrusted to two nuns. St. Seraphim told them that everything to do with the church “is like an inner fire enkindling us, and looking after it is the best work of all. The humblest job, be it only to clean the floor of the house of God, is a nobler work than all the others. Everything you do in the house of God should be done with love and reverence. You must do nothing trivial there, only necessary duties. For where else could you find greater joy than in the place where our Lord is dwelling, surrounded by cherubim and seraphim and all the heavenly spirits!"
This is an example of what our stewardship should mean to us and require of us. It is not enough to say of the Church, "I'm a member in good standing," and then walk away from the responsibilities that Almighty God has placed into our hands. It is solely through our love and commitment to the Holy Trinity expressed in both faith and action that salvation can be ours. All that we have belongs to Him. This includes the gifts of the talents we have, and the gift of time we spend.
As the nuns in the story about St. Seraphim found out, even sweeping the floor in the house of God is an honorable and noble work. But there are so many other works that need to be done. It is only the believer and practitioner of the Orthodox faith that can do them with the joy of seeing that whatever is done, is done to the glory of God and the benefit of the Church. We must do all we can to express unreserved love emptying ourselves and following Him always. This is true stewardship.
This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.
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