30 September 2014

What is The Way?

On Facebook, a post asks, "what does "walking in the way" mean to you. This comes up at this moment because that is the title of this year's TENS (The Episcopal Network for Stewardship) campaign. So, I spent some time thinking about the question. I have recorded my answer here because I think it a bit long for Facebook.

In the Acts of the Apostles, what we call the church was called by its members, “The Way” (cf. Acts 19:9.)

"The way" is a manner of living requiring proclamation that "the kingdom of God has come." This way of living came to us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. As early believers, Paul, and the Gospels proclaimed, Jesus taught the way to live, and the way to transcend death.

The question asked by saints, reformers, and theologians,confronts us: do we live the way God has given us? Do we in the terms familiar in contemporary society, “walk the walk?” Or do we find it painfully convicting to read Jeremiah, and hear how God expects us to live? That is the challenge of the “walk the way” campaign. Do we live in the kingdom of God, do we proclaim it to the world, and especially the community, do we walk through our lives as the apostles did?

Paul tells us we how stewardship fits into The Way.
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. “ 2 Corinthians 9:7 English Standard Version
It is really that simple. Jesus said where our treasure is, there our heart is too. So, what we consider, budget, pledge and give, answers the question, “are we cheerful givers?”

The Way is devotion, seeking, charity, and yes supporting the community. That is how we are called to go through life. That is what it means to “walk in the way.”

Stewardship requires four critical steps: (1) pray, (2) think and discuss, (3) pledge, and (4) give and act. Two of those four steps are pairs. We need to discuss what we should do with spouses, children, parents, and sometimes each other. While the vestry certainly is praying you will pledge that is not enough. Thus, step 4: "give and act."

"Walking the way" implies movement, not merely writing checks as critical as that is. The way includes doing the work. That is what I think it means. Doing the work of the church is not “volunteering,” it is stewardship. The way is both giving and doing, all the time remembering we are to be cheerful givers.

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