Our Money Story:
Writing the Next Chapter
Pr. Randy Gehring
Dear OSL family,
We all have a money story, whether we recognize it or not. Perhaps we are living from a story of fear or shame. Or a story that the church is dying and no longer relevant. Or a story that our actions won’t have an impact. Or a story that we don’t have enough.
Our stewardship theme this year, Our Money Story, invited us to discover and tell our money stories in light of God’s money story of liberation and justice so that our stewardship practices might be transformed into fuller expressions of who we are and what we believe. Here’s a recap of our weekly themes:
Remember: We looked back at our spoken and unspoken money stories and how those stories have impacted our practices of stewardship. Reflecting on Judas’ betrayal of Jesus and the Israelites’ experience in the wilderness, we remembered God’s steadfast relationship with us. Though Judas betrayed Jesus in exchange for money, he was still invited to the table. Though the Israelites complained about no food, they were met with manna from heaven. Even in stories of deep betrayal and desperation, we are gifted with God’s provision.
Release: In stories of a rich young man who could not let go of his wealth (Matthew 19) and the radical social mandate of canceled debts (Deuteronomy 15), we practiced releasing shame, anxiety, guilt, greed, and anything that keeps us from freedom and wholeness, from fully living into God’s story. We reflected on how releasing is a spiritual practice that frees us from ourselves and liberates others.
Reimagine: Scripture calls us to reimagine a world where our social and economic systems are not built to disparage or impoverish but instead to provide for and benefit all. We connected with the story of the widow’s mite (Mark 12) and reimagined how Jesus may have been lamenting the economic system that created her poverty. We recalled the Jewish practice of the Jubilee year (Leviticus 19) and heard God’s call to share the harvest and rebalance disparities.
Restore: Ultimately, faithful stewardship heals us as individuals and helps us restore right relationship with one another. In Genesis 33, Jacob and Esau experience a surprising reconciliation after years of strife and estrangement. In John 21, Jesus appears to the disciples and fills their empty fishing nets. God’s grace transforms the bad endings we create for ourselves by writing us into what Pr. Justin called “The Legendary Epilogue.”
The initial response of our appeal is encouraging: 345 Estimates of Giving have been returned (as of this writing) and more come in every day. Of those that have been returned, there is a net increase in projected contributions of about $58,000 with a total of $1,050,306 being pledged. We praise God for these promising early results.
If you haven’t yet returned your Estimate of Giving in support of the mission God has entrusted to us, please do so as soon as you can so that your investment in this transformative ministry can be part of writing the next chapter in this congregation’s story.
Each of you is a blessing for which I give thanks.
Pr. Randy Gehring
About the Artwork
The Logo for Our Money Story: from the artist, Lauren Wright Pittman: “As I stacked the words ‘Our,’ ‘Money,’ and ‘Story,’ I found the phrase, ‘Our one story.’ Though we each have our own money story, our stories are so interconnected that they ultimately create one story. The work at hand is the process of releasing, reclaiming, restoring, and renewing our stories so they take on the contours of God’s story.”
Mandala Mosaic Art Project: Meaning “circle” in Sanskrit, a mandala is a geometric, circular design used in Buddhist and Hindu traditions for meditation and prayer. Often, the design of the mandala represents a cosmos or universe and is used for spiritual transformation and healing. The mandala template used in this project nods to this Eastern tradition. The imagery within the rings of the mandala correspond to the scriptures in the stewardship series. Mandala art template designed by Lauren Wright Pittman. Artwork © A Sanctified Art.