"My God, my Father and my Savior, since it has pleased thee to preserve me by thy grace through the night just ended and until the present day, grant that I may use it entirely in thy service and that I may, say, and do nothing but to please thee and to obey thy holy will, so that all my actions may redound to the glory of thy name and the edification of my neighbors."
Sunday is Reformation Day among us Protestants, an annual date intended for the celebration of our heritage as spiritual children of the 16th century Christian reformation in Europe. The quotation above, a sentence from a prayer by reformer John Calvin -- arguably the father of what would later become our Presbyterian way of being church -- is not only a nod to our Reformation roots but also a lovely prayer for the middle week of our stewardship season.
All of life, every sleeping and waking breath, is fundamentally a generous gift from a magnanimous God. That perspective is the only proper starting point for considering our role as stewards of God's good gifts. So the question before us this week is not merely "What am I giving to the church?" Calvin taught us, instead, to ask always: "What have I been given by God? What has God entrusted to me in this life? What time, talent, and treasure is Jesus calling me to share as a pointer for others to God's love and light?"
Sunday morning in worship we return again to the witness of Ephesians 3:14-21, this time with a close look at verses 18-19: Paul's prayer for us that we "may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." Paul celebrates the four dimensions of God's generosity in our lives, a grace that spills over in every direction.
How WIDE are we being called to make our Northminster fellowship? To what LENGTHS will we go to share and model the good news that God is love? How can we continue to HEIGHTEN our worship, that it would always be a showcase for God's story? In a world marked by tight and trite soundbites, how can we plumb the DEPTHS of the gospel in ways that inspire and equip others to walk in his way? I myself am confident that if we attend to these sacred quesions, and are open to being ourselves a part of God's answers, the money we need to be the church naturally follow. This is how, in Calvin's words, all our actions "redound to the glory of thy name and the edification of my neighbors."
Let us together grasp all the dimensions of the gospel at work in our lives.