During university, I spent a year living with a professor’s family as the nanny. The family was heavily invested in an organic community garden initiative in the town I lived in, and I became engaged in the effort as well. The family was Quaker, and believed deeply in simplicity and living in a way that tried to enrich those around them and did no harm. Because of these convictions, they chose to be vegan, and also tried to source all of their food ethically and locally.
It was an interesting time in my life where I was able to learn some great takeaways from them, and also adapt accordingly. But the one thing that I gleaned from them more than anything was their commitment to this community garden on the university campus. I spent many afternoons watering at the garden, and as a member ($10 a year), I could harvest whatever I could eat. We were encouraged not to harvest more than we could eat, but to take as much as we liked for us and/or our families. At that time I was living on a budget of $25 a week for food, so I primarily ate from the garden for a season.
During the growing season, we donated the majority of the food to the food bank. And it was not just a few leftovers, it was a vast array of produce. I remember over 800 lbs of tomatoes were given one weekend to the foodbank and went to hungry families in the area who did not have access to fresh produce.
At the end of the season, all of the growers came together for a potluck. The only condition was that you had to make something from the garden. We spent several hours together feasting on rosemary mashed potatoes, and butternut squash muffins, and delectable soups, and zucchini scallop—a delicious smorgasbord of fresh, homegrown foods. We also spent some of the time pressing cider from the apples that had fallen off of the trees—the freshest cider I have ever had.
And then we prayed together, for the community, for one another, thanking God for His provision and for the abundance of rainfall that had watered the garden that year.
Some of you may be envisioning hippy-dippy nonsense. But I would more liken the experience to the vision in Revelation of the wedding feast. The experience represented to me a beautiful sharing of grace and of God’s provision. I had more than enough, and the people who worked the garden shared all of it in common, taking as much as needed and giving away the rest, like the early believers in Acts (Acts 2:44-47).
Living with the Quakers taught me something of simplicity and of sufficiency. We so often say that God’s grace is enough, it is sufficient. But then we act like we need more, more, more!
For the next several weeks, we will be walking through a series we are calling Living Richly. As a church, we are looking at what stewardship means, what the Bible says about giving, and how that actually leads to a richer, fuller life. Stewardship is defined as “the job of supervising or taking care of something” (Webster), but most commonly refers to money. But first things first! We believe stewardship starts with God, not us.
In short, this resource is a reflection on what it means to live richly. It is broken up into four sections on stewardship. As I mentioned, stewardship doesn’t begin with giving. It begins with the heart. Section one looks at living richly upward—our relationship with God being the firm foundation of stewardship. Section two looks at living richly inward—focusing on contentedness, regardless of circumstance. Section three looks at living richly outward—having communion and community with others as an essential part of stewardship. And section four focuses on living richly forward—the giving of ourselves and stewarding our resources wisely.
The blog will have a new post each week with different exercises for you to do. Additionally, we are changing the KidZone curriculum at this time to correspond with what the “big kids” are learning on Sundays, so there will be additional questions/exercises for the family as well. This will be available in print form at the church, as well as on the blog each week. On Tuesdays and Thursdays the family/adult blogs will be available starting next week.
I hope that we are able to grow individually and corporately in our stewardship through this series, and that the spillover will be able to do some cool things in our community and in the world.
Enjoy, as you work through what living richly means in your life!
Introduction to Stewardship Exercises:
What does the Bible say about stewardship? Read up on some of the passages on stewardship in the Bible. You will not get to them all…(The Bible talks about money and stewardship over 1000 times!)
Section 1: Matthew 6:19-34 (God first), Matthew 13:44-46 (pearl of great price)
Section 2: Acts 2:44-47 (shared everything), Leviticus 19:9-10 (gleaning)
Section 3: Philippians 4:10-13 (content in circumstances), Hebrews 13:5-6 (love of money),
Section 4: Matthew 25: 14-30 (parable of the talents), Luke 12:13-21 (parable of rich fool)