Commentary

What does stewardship require of us?

Bob Hulteen

Well, let’s get this out of the way immediately: It is the end of the year, and Metro Lutheran has not yet made its budget. 2012 has not been the worst financial year, and advertising in the last four months is on an upward trend for the first time in more than four years (which is encouraging). But, we are seeking your help.

As the Rev. Dr. Martin Marty reminded those who attended the Metro Lutheran annual dinner in October, this publication is fairly unique.

Could you as an individual, or your congregation collectively, consider an increased contribution to get Metro Lutheran through 2012?

As the Rev. Dr. Martin Marty reminded those who attended the Metro Lutheran annual dinner in October, this publication is fairly unique. Metro Lutheran is an independent news service, not the house organ of any particular church body. It is pan-Lutheran in an age when it is more common to separate from each other than become informed about each other.

We ask that you consider making a contribution that will help Metro Lutheran move into 2013 in a position to keep telling the story of Lutheranism in the Twin Cities area.

Marty believes that religion journalism requires integrity and quality, and he praised Metro Lutheran on both accounts.

A variety of voices are represented in the pages of Metro Lutheran, and yet it still has an integrated approach to the way Lutherans engage the world. The board and staff hear anecdotal evidence of the appreciation readers have for this resource. And, to be honest, we are proud of the results.

We hope you are, too. And, we ask that you consider making a contribution that will help Metro Lutheran move into 2013 in a position to keep telling the story of Lutheranism in the Twin Cities area.

Thank you very much.

The widow’s mite … or might not

My pastor, Jay Carlson, offered a challenging stewardship sermon on the Sunday after All Saints’ Sunday. (That is probably why financial support is on my mind, by the way.) Part of the message’s impact was related to the fact that it was almost an anti-stewardship message, which, I think, is pretty Lutheran.

Carlson asked congregants to think differently about the assigned gospel text: Mark 12:38-44. As a reminder, the passage opens with Jesus suggesting that listeners “beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces” and generally be recognized for their political and financial capital. It concludes with the narrative of the poor widow who, though she only owned two small copper coins, gave all she had to the common treasury, even as the scribes and their friends gave large sums from their vast treasuries.

Traditionally, sermons have focused on how the scribes and their allies should demonstrate a similar level of gratitude as that shown by the widow. I think often the message has gotten close to the line of advocating that gifts that cause some financial pain are appropriate, as the widow’s did and the scribes’ social circle may not have.

But, Carlson challenged congregants: What if we take seriously what the text says? What if we see the widow not simply as the hero, but also as the victim. Mark chides the scribes and friends who “devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers.”

The gospel writer seems to say that the widow, who is likely poor because of the forces that impinge upon her — perhaps the gouging of the scribes and friends — gives even though she, or her “class” mates, has already been “robbed.”

Is Mark making a case that a better scenario is one where the widow has more and the scribes’ associates have less, so that all could give significantly to the treasury and none be required to be in need?

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