A parishioner recently inquired, “Father, is there any sort of financial support system in place for a small older parish such as ours to turn to in an emergency? Or what about if we needed to do some major repairs or renovations? Is there anyone we could ask for help?”
This is a question that gets to the heart of Stewardship. The True Cross (crux) of the matter, if you will. In a parish with a healthy understanding of Christian Stewardship, we understand that God has blessed us with our local parish, and given it to us to care for it until His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. So, in essence, the question is a little misguided. We should never be looking for the outside world to care for our responsibility. And yet, don’t we do that every single time that we have a fundraiser, or a benefit banquet, or a dance, or a bake sale? I know what the parishioner was asking: what if we can’t support ourselves anymore?
The answer may be a little complicated, regarding when the Bishop gets involved, and how the Diocese helps out struggling parishes (which, yes, does happen on a regular basis!)…but ultimately, there is not anyone else that we should be asking.
When we place God first in our lives, He provides the means for us to ensure that He is glorified in His Creation. Didn’t He give the man with five talents the wherewithal and ability to make five talents more? Didn’t He give the “shrewd” steward the talent to make something happen when his back was against the wall? Of course He did! And He does the same for us–even in the bleakest of circumstances.
If we find ourselves asking the same question as the aforementioned parishioner, maybe it’s time for us to put God first in our lives. Maybe it’s time for us to become regular participants in Christ’s Body and Blood. Maybe it’s time for us to make the first line-item in our monthly budget our Church commitment–instead of the left-overs. Maybe it’s time for a Christ-centered life!