Advent Musings 3: Joyful stewardship at Advent

This is the third of “Advent Musings,” a series of meditations written by Canadian Anglicans (and friends) and published on each Monday in Advent.

By Tanya Moxley

The third week of Advent is when we traditionally focus on joy, and for me, this Advent joy relates to one of the volunteer jobs that I do: co-chairing our diocesan stewardship initiative, called “Companions on a Journey.” For some people it will be difficult to believe that co-chairing a church committee could bring someone joy, but it really does! Okay, not all the time, but certainly when I see people’s faces light up as they learn new things—not just about their church, but about their faith and how it has shaped their life.

At our workshops we give people some new definitions for stewardship that broaden the focus beyond fundraising. Here are two definitions:

  • “The responsible management of something entrusted to our care”
  • “Everything I say and do, after I say I believe”

I wonder about the connection between stewardship and Advent. As we get ready for the coming of the Christ child are we being responsible stewards of those things that have been entrusted to our care? It’s easy to get distracted by the busyness of presents-parties-family visits. We seem to do these things with the best of intentions, yet do they bring us joy, or just fatigue and stress? What brings us joy at this time of year, and have we made space in our lives to do it?

Bishop Bill Burrill (ret.) said to us at our synod this past summer “Many people think that God put us on earth to critique it!” It sure feels that way sometimes, doesn’t it? Sometimes I get so wound up about what could / should be better about the world and the people around me that I forget to be thankful and joyful. When was the last time you paused to admire a bird hopping along with a beak full of french fry? How about taking time to grin at those little kids on their toboggan, shrieking with the sheer joy of going down a big hill too fast? Welcoming God into our lives is one way to find that joy-of-being-alive feeling. Did you feel it when you sang “Amazing Grace” on November 23? I sure did!

What gives God joy? I wish we could know for sure! Here are some things that I hope are on God’s “joyful” list:

  • When we take good care of God’s creation
  • When we tell the Good News story of God’s love
  • When we care for our families, friends, and most especially for “the least of these, our brothers and sisters”
  • When we make the effort to determine our vocation, and do the ministry we are called to, as best we can—not just in the church, but in the world around us
  • When we take responsibility for journeying from human self-centeredness to the kind of generosity that Jesus showed us is possible

God made us stewards of creation. When we grasp that responsibility with hands, heart and mind and do our best to look after all the wonderful gifts God gives to us every day, not only will we find joy all around us, it makes God joyful, too! How awesome of a present is that, that we can give joy to God?

Ms. Moxley co-chairs the stewardship initiative for the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island; leads a Sunday School class with her husband at St. Nicholas’s, Upper Tantallon, N.S.; and is a member of General Synod’s Communications and Information Resources Committee. Her two day jobs include a part-time office job and teaching project management in the computer science faculty at Dalhousie University.

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