Real Stewardship Never Asks for Volunteers

Posted on January 12, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

StewardshipCan you imagine what kind of response I would get if I asked my three children, “Who would like to volunteer to clean up the kitchen after dinner today?” Six eyeballs staring at me like I had two heads!

If I voice my request in terms of volunteerism, I have suggested that I don’t have any real ownership in this matter. Perhaps they do sometimes think that their mother and I are simply hired hands to take care of them, but be rest assured, I have not received a paycheck for services rendered lately.

When you and I give a donation of blood, we volunteer our time and blood to the Red Cross. The Red Cross does not employ most of us, nor do we own a part of the Red Cross. We can only volunteer ourselves for the cause.

As parishioners we are part of a parish family. We belong to our parish community. We do not visit on a Sunday morning, since we cannot visit a place that is home.

The call of the Body of Christ occurs in every parish and our response should be that of the psalmist, “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.” Real stewardship never counts the cost and never asks for volunteers. We step forward because we belong to something greater than ourselves and the head of that community is Jesus.

After dinner at my house, someone needs to clean up the kitchen. In your parish community, someone needs to respond to the call of Jesus. In both cases, no volunteers are needed. We will rely on family instead.

God is Leading Us

Posted on January 5, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for Feast of Epiphany

Epiphany of the LordThe story of the Wise Men bringing gifts to Jesus, the newborn King, is a great one, isn’t it? They had a great big star in the sky to lead the way. I am no boy scout, so I am not sure how well I would do following a star like that.

But the important point here is that God led them to the manger. The manger was a place that unless God specifically showed you this was where the Christ-child was born you wouldn’t have believed it. You would have passed on by.

In our lives, there are no big stars in the sky leading us where we need to go. It isn’t so easy sometimes discerning where God is leading us. We may seek to use our gifts wisely, but in what manner and to what end is not always clear.

This is where prayer can make a huge difference. If we seek to cultivate a prayer life where we are mindful of the presence of God throughout our day, then the call is easier to discern.

We can help the process by intentionally offering to God in the morning the entirety of the day to come: all our actions, all our time, and all our decisions. In the evening, we can examine the past hours of the day and reflect on when we responded well to Christ’s call and when we fell short.

Then we resolve to begin again tomorrow, inviting Christ to be with us every step of the way. God may not offer a star in the sky to lead us, but if we invite Him as a guide on our journey each day, the path will be much clearer.

Listen. Think. Act.

Posted on December 29, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the Feast of Mary, Mother of God

Listen. Think. Act.

Our Lady of the RosaryThat is a mantra or slogan for many different groups. Some seek to battle prejudice and bias. Other groups hope to eliminate poverty or reduce crime. I have even found some companies use it as a way of increasing engagement among their employees. In a nutshell, it is about taking in what you have heard and then reflecting on it before you act. The most fruitful actions are those that take place after careful reflection.

This is an important thing to remember for those trying to live a stewardship way of life. If we are honest with ourselves, too often most of us jump to conclusions too quickly or act in ways that cause friction because we didn’t really think about the consequences of our actions. We are moving too fast in a world that seems to be moving ever faster.

When the shepherds came to visit Jesus, the newborn king, they told Mary everything that the angels had told them. Luke tells us that after hearing all this, she “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” No response. No panic. No action. Her reflection was the appropriate response.

In this New Year, you and I would do well to remember this Gospel account of Mary, the Mother of God. Let us resolve to listen more, reflect often, and then act accordingly. We are called to use our gifts wisely, sowing them in good soil. If we just throw them out, allowing them to simply fall wherever they may, have we really used them for God’s glory? We need to listen. Think. Then act.

So This Is Christmas?

Posted on December 22, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for Christmas

“And so this is Christmas and what have you done? Another year over, a new one just begun.” -John Lennon

Nativity of Our LordThis year marks my 48th Christmas!

Forty-eight times I have celebrated the feast of God becoming man in the Incarnation. Forty-eight times I have sat in front of a Christmas tree and opened presents from those who love me the most. Forty-eight times.

Forty-eight seems like a lot to me, and for those older than me, that means even more Christmases to celebrate.

I have some great Christmas memories. I also have some memories of Christmas days that didn’t end up quite like I had planned. But all in all, there have been forty-eight times when Christmas just took over all my being for a day.

This year, Christmas will begin that really big change in my life. I will turn on the radio and I will be asked in a song, “And so this is Christmas and what have you done?” This year I will say that I fell short again, but next Christmas? Next Christmas, I will say that was the year I truly made a difference in my world. Yes, I am holding out for Christmas #49.

Hopefully, after reflection about the months gone by, you will be able to say, “This was the best year yet! I really used my gifts from God to impact the world around me.” If not, let’s make a resolve to meet up again with next year’s Everyday Stewardship reflection for Christmas.

That will be the year for which God has been waiting. Right?

God Is With Us

Posted on December 16, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

EmmanuelThe name Emmanuel means, “God is with us.” This is a title we use for Jesus frequently during the Advent and Christmas season, but it’s impact should stay with us throughout the year. The Incarnation, God becoming human in the person of Jesus Christ, broke into our world in a profound manner that means that God is not only with us, God is us. The relationship offered to you and I by God is now more intimate and meaningful because of the birth of Jesus Christ.

God is truly with us and our goal is to be truly present to him at all times. To be prayerful is an important characteristic of an Everyday Steward. It means more than reciting prayers and setting aside 10 minutes a day. Our goal is to experience the presence of God throughout the day in the ordinary and extraordinary moments of living. Offering all the actions and moments of the day to God as we awake, and then examining our day before we go to sleep at night, help lead us closer toward that goal.

When we begin to sense God’s presence at all times, and we realize that being with God does not mean one of us has to be talking all the time, than we can truly attest to our reality in a quiet voice at any time, “Emmanuel, God is with us.”

Standing Out From the Crowd

Posted on December 9, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

John the BaptistJohn the Baptist is truly an intriguing figure of history. He was a cousin of Jesus and literally prepared all those who would listen for this new way of life ushered in by a Messiah. Besides the key role he plays in the Gospel story, his depiction in Scripture, and then in literature, movies, and other media, gives us an image of a pretty unique person.

How about locusts and wild honey for dinner? Can you imagine camel’s hair as a staple in your wardrobe? He lived differently, and he stood out among the status quo. Of course, his look and cuisine didn’t stand out nearly as much as his message.

How do you stand out? What separates you from the crowd? God has created each of us completely different and with a combination of gifts like no one else. How can you uncover and understand your unique gifts?

First, reflect on what makes you happiest in life. We are happiest when we are using the talents God gave us. Next, think about what comes naturally to you, whether it is a skill, task, or emotion. Recurring patterns in our behavior and experiences provide clues to our giftedness.

Finally, what do other people see in you? The communities we live in, whether it is our family, parish, school, or workplace are filled with people who can provide clues to us by their observations. After these steps, can you say what makes you special? Now, let’s start to grow that, lean on it, and stand out in a way that brings glory to God.

A Song of Revolution

Posted on December 6, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

bob-dylan-times-they-are-a-changinThe line it is drawn, the curse it is cast
The slowest now, will later be fast
As the present now will later be past
The order is rapidly fading
And the first one now will later be last
Cause the times they are a-changin (Bob Dylan)

Revolutions often begin in song.

In the Civil Rights era there were many songs that were anthems of that movement: “We Shall Overcome” – “We Shall Not Be Moved” – “The Times They Are A-Changin.”

In the American Revolution there was “Chester” and in the French Revolution “La Marseillaise.”

Back around AD Year One another, far more important revolution began in song. It was sung by a humble young girl who said yes to news that she would conceive the Son of God. She then hurriedly went to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was also pregnant. And when the infant in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for joy, Mary began to sing:

MagnificatHe has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty, (Luke 1:51-53).”

It is tempting to sentimentalize the Christmas story, but this song is no lullaby. It is a song of revolution, a tune of liberation, and not likely to make it in a Hallmark Christmas card.

Amidst the scramble and stress to get our shopping done in time and prepare our homes for the big day, it is important to keep before us that Advent is the beginning of a world-changing and soul-shaking movement. God has come to earth to show us what love is and how to pull it off. This love is at times a threat to power for it gives preference to those who are oppressed by it – the hungry and thirsty, the stranger, those without shelter, the sick and imprisoned.

So let us sing the Song of Mary, the original version of “The Times They Are A-Changin,” and live the revolution of Advent!

Chuck Frost is Pastoral Associate at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Roanoke, Virginia. Chuck was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church in 2000 after spending ten years as a United Methodist Pastor in Mississippi and Alaska. After becoming Catholic, Chuck served for nine years as Diocesan Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Savannah, GA. Chuck has a MDiv from Duke Divinity School.

Follow Chuck’s blog at: chuckfrost.wordpress.com

The Best Gift Giver

Posted on December 2, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for Second Sunday of Advent

second-sunday-of-adventMy youngest child is going through Confirmation preparation this year. It is always quite a challenge to get through to a teenager about the importance of the gifts and fruits of the Spirit. You can’t see and touch these things, but they are more valuable that most tangible gifts we can receive.

Isaiah 11 features the list of the traditional gifts of the Spirit that we speak about in the context of the sacrament: wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. These gifts are freely given to us to assist us in our daily walk with God. Discipleship and stewardship are hard enough in this world without the help from God’s Spirit.

During this Advent season, we think quite a bit about gifts and gift giving. What is the perfect gift for that special someone? What can you give them that will have an impact and they will remember for years to come? Over two thousand years ago, a gift was given to us in a manger that really made a lasting impact. That gift remains with us in a profound way through the sacraments. While we are busy trying to get gifts for others, let us be mindful of the gifts we have already received by the best gift giver the world has ever seen.

Don’t Wait to Make Resolutions!

Posted on November 18, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the Feast of Christ the King 2016

Christ the KingMost people look to the end of the calendar year to begin making resolutions for the next year. There seems to be this magical break in human time because of the changing of a year. Suddenly, the world is filled with new possibilities and promises of a fruitful future. However, an everyday steward does not need to wait for the first of January to make some resolutions or changes in life.

This Sunday marks the end of another liturgical year. Next Sunday, we begin looking toward Christmas with the first Sunday of Advent.

Today is a great day to make some decisions and turn attention to improving our spiritual life.

Starting in Advent you could make a resolution to spend more time with the Scriptures. God is trying to tell you something, but you have to be more mindful to really listen. You could challenge yourself to each day do something generous that you might not normally do.

The challenges don’t have to be large or cost a lot, but they should push you a little out of your comfort zone. That’s why we call them challenges. You could also resolve to keep a gratefulness journal, where you record daily your thanks for wonderful things in your life. This will help you examine your life more closely and will help you realize the wealth that God has given you, even in the small things.

Don’t wait to strengthen your discipleship and stewardship way of life. The Church is beginning anew and that mean you are too! You are the Church, right? Don’t wait another month. Organize your life with the rhythm of the liturgical year, not the year defined by a party in Time Square.

The Light in Darkened Alleys

Posted on November 10, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Alley

Many years ago, my wife and I traveled to New York City with friends of ours from South Carolina. They had never seen a Broadway show before so we landed some seats to see Les Miserables. It was a perfect night filled with excitement, fun, and a sense that the Big Apple was a magical place.

That is until we started walking back to the ferry station so we could get to our car in New Jersey. I had been to the city several times, so as we proceeded to walk down some streets that perhaps were not the best choices in some minds, I had little fear.

But for our friends, suddenly prayer seemed essential to our survival. The pace of the walk increased, as did the pace of their beating hearts. Of course, we did get to the ferry without an altercation and all was well. We laughed as we created an extra memory from our adventure.

As Christians, we will walk through hostile territory and darkened streets throughout our lives. The dangers that surround us will be real and will provide us with causes for caution and concern. The defense we try to mount for ourselves will never be enough for our victory.

It is the Father that will give us the wisdom to refute and resist our enemies. It is the Father that will prepare a defense for us; one that no power will prevail against. But we must persevere, trust in God, and surrender all to Him. Then we will never need to surrender to anyone or anything ever again, and one day, we will find the streets that were dark and scary will be turned to gold and filled with the Light.