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Acknowledgements: Many of these came originally from a publication called The Gifts We Bring: Worship Resources for Stewardship and Mission, Church Finance Council, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Some editing has made these resources even more useful, and some great new material has been added.  Enjoy!  And use these offerings to prompt your own creativity.

General

Creator God, you create and sustain everything around us.  You turned chaos into order and darkness into light.  From you bursts forth the splendour of the sun.  You set stars and planets into movement.  You are the source of the fire’s heat and the wind’s power, of the water’s coolness and the earth’s stability.  Deep and wonderful are the mysteries of your creation.  We earnestly pray we will be good stewards of all your creation.  Lord of Lords, Creator, Provider, we thank you for the gift of life.  Amen

(adapted from William W. McDermet, III)

God, please help the poor get rich and the rich get poor so that they know what it feels like.  And then, God, let everyone switch back to medium and let everyone have the same amount of food and money.

(Written for the Jubilee Year of 2000 by Ben Zimmerli Jantzi, age 7)

Collects

God our beloved Parent, you never cease the work you have begun and prosper with your blessings all human labour:  make us wise and faithful stewards of your gifts that we may serve the common good, maintain the fabric of our world, and seek that justice where all may share the good things you pour upon us.  through Jesus Christ our Lord.

(adapted from Common Worship:  Daily Prayer, Church of England, p. 537)

Confession

God who loves us, delights in us, and never forsakes us, we have not always been faithful to you.  We have neglected to love you when we have failed to value the gifts of each other.  We have neglected to love you when we have betrayed others through our unwillingness to affirm them.

We know your gifts to us are more than enough to do your work and make all things new.  Much of your work lies undone because of the way we squander your goodness to us.  In this manner also, we prevent others from reaching their full potential.  O God, forgive us our selfishness, our foolishness, our self-centredness, false pride, and defensiveness, our unwillingness to obey, for the sake of Christ, your Son, who taught us true obedience, even unto death.  Amen

(Margot Ball Giles)

Almighty God.
We tell you the truth:
We have a hard time believing in rebirth.
We act childish rather than child-like.
We are anxious and won’t let go.
We are afraid, yet more afraid to let anyone know.
We are busy at our small concerns.
We think we can manage somehow.

And that’s not all:
We have a difficult time believing in our own redemption.
You can see how little faith we have in the possibility of the world’s redemption.
We have a difficult time trusting ourselves.
You can see how difficult it is for us to trust the community of all believers.

Almighty God, we need your help.
Break us open.
Crack our shells.
Tend our tender shoots.
Forgive us and take us back, free now to be, free to serve, in Christ’s name.  Amen.

(Office of Creative Ministries)

Hymns

See the website section on Worship Services.  Look at the section on Stewardship in Common Praise.  There are almost a dozen suggestions there.  Write your own!

Thanksgiving 

We thank you for food and remember the hungry;
We thank you for health and remember the sick;
We thank you for friends and remember the lonely;
We thank you for freedom and remember the enslaved.
May our gratitude stir us to service, that your gifts may be used for others.  Amen.

                                                                                          (Canadian Foodgrains Bank)

Offering Prayers

We pause, O God, in this moment of dedication to reflect on what we have let go, and on what we have kept back, what we have given in the past and what we plan to give in the future.  May our reflection on our needs and uses for this offering, and upon the overwhelming claim you have on all we possess and handle, make us more realistic, more generous, more cheerful givers.  In Jesus’ name we pray.

(Alec J. Langford)

 Presider: We offer these gifts for your use, O God.

People: We offer them for caring use among the suffering; we offer them for gentle use among the hurting; we offer them for encouraging use among the dispirited; we offer them for use worldwide in faith communities; we offer them for worship, teaching and service within this faith community; and we offer ourselves, our time and our talent, for use with our gifts.  Amen

(The above is best said by all in unison at the offering.  It gets remembered that way!)

Take from our hands these gifts, O God.  Take from our lives the greed that keeps more and gives less.  Give us the joy of seeing others happy.  Give us the satisfaction of seeing lives fulfilled and creative.  We dedicate ourselves to your purpose, your church, your reign.  In Christ’s name we pray.  Amen.

(Alec. J. Langford)

Benedictions

Tender and compassionate God, whose strength is made perfect even in weakness, help us to believe that you receive us as we are.  Give us hope for what we yet can become.  Help us, imperfect though we are, to be stewards of the message of your love, like earthen vessels that carry treasures through your loving grace.

(William W. McDermet  III)

For Dedicating a Budget

Leader:  The world began.  God created.
People:  God created humanity to share in God’s bounty and blessings.
Leader:  We join in thankful praise today to the Giver of all things.
People:  God has shared with all humankind and has challenged people to respond.
Leader:  We come returning to God a part of what has been given to us.
People:  We bring our fruits and our labours in response to God’s great gifts.
Leader:  As we bring tokens and pledges of our commitment, we pray that they will be acceptable in God’s sight.
People:  As we bring the offering of our lives, we recommit ourselves to God’s purpose and reign.
Leader:  Our commitment to support this budget is a strong commitment to the work of God’s church.
People:  Food for the hungry, clothing for the naked, hope for the discouraged.
Leader:  And funds to keep the door of service of our congregation open to the community.
People:  To all these things, and more, we commit our offering and love to God.
All:  Sing the Doxology.

(L. Jim Anthis, adapted from The Congregation at Worship, CBP Press)

Children’s Talk Ideas

(Never forget that, even though children’s talks are primarily for the children, the story is often what an adult will take away from the service!)

The Pine Cone

Have you ever taken a walk through the woods?  One day, I took a walk through the woods and found these two pine cones.  (Hold them up.)  They are from the same tree.  They are the same size.  But they are not the same in one important way.  Can you tell how they are different? (pause for answers.)  One is closed and one is open.

This one is closed up tightly.  It stays like this.  It will just rot in the ground.  It will die.  The other one is different.  It has opened up.  What do we find inside a pine cone when it opens up? (Pause for ideas.)  The seeds inside this cone will fall out and start new pine trees for our woods.

We are like pine cones.  God gave each of us some gifts.  We have love.  We have singing voices.  We have hands to make things.  We have money.  If we keep all these gifts to ourselves like the closed up pine cone that kept the seeds, we will not grow inside.  We will feel rotten.  If we share what we have, like the pine cone that opened up, just think of all the happiness and new life we can begin!  And, at the same time, we will make room for God and happiness to come into our lives too.

(Maribel Rich)

(Note:  If you dip a closed pine cone in water, it will remain closed for some time.)

Not Just for Me

Materials:  a good quantity of Smarties or M&M’s and a few candies that do not contain chocolate.

Preparation:  Line up a couple of older children to help distribute these at the appropriate time.

I have something special for you today.  As the helpers pass the candies out, please take one each.  (Talk about the different colours.  If someone asks if they can eat it, suggest that all can eat one including the leader.  If someone suggests sharing, let them share.)

When we eat the candy first, we are thinking of ourselves.  That’s exactly what we do so much of the time, isn’t it?  The things we are given, we use for ourselves, just for me.  We quickly use and enjoy them.

Now let’s pass them out again.  Hold onto yours until I tell you what to do.

Now, what God really wants us to do with the things we are given is to share them with others.  So, let’s do that right now.  Take your second candy to someone in the congregation right now…you parent, your grandparent, someone you don’t know very well or at all.  Go now, and share your gift.  (The organist can play something appropriate as the candies are being distributed.)

What was that like?  Who did you share your candy with? Did you make someone happy?

You shared your gift with them.  You made God happy because you shared.  You probably feel good too.

God wants us to share the things we have, the things we receive, with others.  This means our time, our toys, our abilities, our food, and our money.  We can do this in lots of ways, and one of them is through serving in God’s church and giving our offerings.

Giving and sharing is God’s way.  Realizing that the things we have, the things we are given, are given not just for us, but rather to share.

On the way out, be sure to collect another candy.

(Paul. A. Landis, adapted)

Collects

O God of all abundance,
Who bestows riches on all who call upon you,
Implant in us that same spirit of giving
That we who freely receive your gifts
May also freely give;
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

O Jesus Christ our Lord
Who bid the rich ruler give his possessions to the poor,
To come follow you;
Save us from the sorrow
Of turning from your call
Because we treasure our own possessions
More than we love you,
Who looks upon us and loves us.  Amen.

O Creator and Giver of Life,
And of all things we need for our good and our peace;
Grant us so to use and to share what you have given,
That, with you, we may be bringers of peace
And doers of good,
For your sake.  Amen.

(The above are by John Casteel, adapted)

Stewardship Thoughts and Metaphors

The stewardship question is not really how much will we give.  The stewardship question is how will we spend what we have been given. —Ann Weems

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. —Winston Churchill

Giving is a spiritual thermometer. —M. Kenneth Johnson

Our gifts and our lives are like the boy’s loaves and fishes.  When we share them, they become, by God’s grace, more than we deserve and ever dreamed they might be. —Robert Riester

Stewardship is accepting the cost and joy of discipleship. —William W. McDermet  III

Giving, like living, is a matter of faith, not finances. —William W. McDermet  III

How interesting it is that a $20 bill seems so small at the grocery store, yet so large at the Sunday offering time. —William W. McDermet  III