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Stewardship, Mission, and Sheep

by Pastor Bahe
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Oh, that picture of Jesus carrying the lost sheep back to the fold! It is an image that most anyone who attended Sunday school has in their memory bank. Jesus tells the story of a shepherd who leaves 99 of his sheep to find the one that is lost.

That one lamb being carried on the shoulders of the Great Shepherd, Jesus. What a loving image of a God who never gives up on us, and never tires from bringing us back to community. But have you ever thought about another aspect of that story? There is the one, but what about the 99?

There were 99 to bring that lost lamb back to! What if the shepherd returned and there were zero sheep?

There had to be others there to receive the one. The same is true for Zion. You need to be here and a part of the work we do here. We always say the one is just as important as the 99, but the 99 are just as important as the one as well! That is how important community is to Jesus.

We focus on the one, but what an impact those 99 sheep have on the story. Without them, there is no reunion. No rejoicing.

Our fall stewardship theme pulls us toward the great truth that every one and every “99” is precious in God’s sight. God gives us strength for today and hope for tomorrow through the community of Zion Lutheran Church. It is by being generous together that we make up the “99” to influence the one. Without the generosity of financial gifts, we would not be able to influence people’s lives in the many ways that we do.

Stewardship season is a time for us to be singlehearted and focused on closing the gap between our individual resources given and the God-inspired vision that we have been given together.

As we grow our ministries and dream of accomplishing our God inspired vision, there is excitement, but there is also an important reality for all to be aware of. The reality is that even with faithful, careful, watchful due diligence we are seeing the strong possibility that our needs will continue to outpace our giving, unless we all get back to being the “99.”

When was the last time you felt a part of something that was important, impactful, and had influence? That is what we are asking you to consider. Your financial generosity makes you a part of important, impactful, influencing ministry.*

Let Jesus be your influencer! In so many ways, Jesus teaches about the importance of the one and of the “99.” We need to be together and we need to give generously of our resources together.

By being generous in your giving to Zion you have an enormous impact on influencing people’s lives with the good news of Jesus. Together, we are the “99” (and sometimes we are the one who needs the 99)! Through generosity of financial gifts, we accomplish much in Jesus’ name. And there is much rejoicing in heaven over it, as Jesus says! Thank you for sharing in Zion’s God-given vision.

*always, and whenever I think of financial stewardship, I am mindful that there are many ways of giving to the church. I am also mindful that there are times in our lives when we feel that what we can give seems small—but every amount is important and has an impact on our mission. Give generously out of your heart, trust in the future God has called us to. Know you are loved and know that God sees and celebrates your generosity, no matter if the world deems it large or small. Thank you for all you do and give to make Zion the center of mission it is.

 

Good Shepherd byLiz Valente, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

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