Some of my most vivid memories of my past hiking trips in the Smoky Mountains are of those times when on a remote trail, our group would come to a screeching halt when the trail reached a stream and there was no bridge to get to the other side where the trail continued. I remember one year when there had been spring flooding and one particular stream was so swollen and fast-moving that rangers had rigged a rope across the stream for hikers to hold on to as we waded waist-deep through the significant rapids. Other times, in the absence of a rope or a bridge, the common practice was to carefully step across the inevitable stones to the other side. Sometimes this was an easy journey, other times, I had the wet hiking boots to prove that it wasn’t!
Perhaps it is from those experiences that the metaphor of “stepping stones” has become meaningful to me. What I realize is that many of our journeys of life and faith can be like stepping across stones to the “other side”, so that our journeys can continue to new places. With the help of a book I came across recently entitled Stepping Stones of the Steward by Ronald Vallet (the long-time director of stewardship for the National Council of Churches), I am realizing that this metaphor works as well to describe our journey toward being more faithful stewards of all the gifts we have been given by God (which would be all that we have materially and spiritually). Like any journey of faith, becoming better stewards involves many steps, some of which are easy and others threaten to get our feet wet in new and unexpected ways!
In the book, Rev. Vallet lays out the “stepping stones” that we must traverse in order to gain an increasing understanding and practice of stewardship. He identifies them as “Gaining a Sense of Purpose”, “Using Resources and Taking Risks”, “Reaching Out”, and “Growth and Change”. As you may be aware, Jesus talked about stewardship more than any other topic, and he did so mainly through his parables, so it is not surprising that Rev.Vallet uses a number of them to illustrate his points.
So given all of this, it is with a great deal of excitement that I look forward to our upcoming annual Stewardship Campaign on the theme of “Stepping Stones of Stewardship”. Beginning Sunday, October 20th, we will journey forward together across these stepping stones to the “other side” of a more mature understanding of God’s call on our lives to be faithful and generous in the sharing of our gifts of time, talents, and treasures for our church, community, and world. On the final Sunday of the campaign, November 10th, we will celebrate Consecration Sunday, when we will have an opportunity to present our commitment cards of our giving toward the mission and ministry of HUMC for 2020 (which you will receive as a part of a mailing in late October).
As a part of the campaign, we are also asking you to write a brief testimonial of why the Holt United Methodist Church is important to you. These do not have to be lengthy, and can be anonymous if you wish. There will be slips on which you can write your testimonials in the worship bulletins on October 13th and 20th. Our plan is to display these in a meaningful way, so that we can all see the gift that our church has been to all of us in so many ways!