Thrive: Steward

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Ezekiel 47:13-14

Some years ago the Warren Willis United Methodist Summer Camp in Fruitland Park altered the way they serve daily meals. When I was a camper we would proceed through the food line cafeteria style. After a long day of running through the camp, skills, small groups, and free time, our eyes were usually bigger than our stomachs. Yes, we would eat, but we also wasted a considerable amount of food.

In efforts to be better stewards of the food that is purchased, prepared, and consumed, the camp switched to family style serving. Instead of waiting in a line – which took for-ev-er – the food was prepared and served on platters placed on each table. This decision is helping the camp achieve their goal of greater stewardship, cost savings, and less food waste.

During one meal at camp this summer I participated in a meal that was unlike the others. The counselor at the table serves the campers before him or herself. At all the other meals I served the campers and they immediately dove into their plates; some campers asked for seconds before I served their fellow campers or myself. Some took food and did not eat it; seeing food wasted always pains my heart.

But this meal was different. The campers waited patiently for their plates to be served. Each camper waited for everyone else at the table – even me – to have our plates prepared before they began to eat. We talked about our experiences that day as the plates were served. We all experienced the joy that was that glorious first bite of mac-n-cheese at the same time. We were grateful for what we received. We checked in to make sure everyone else was full before we proceeded to eat more than our prepared portion. We enjoyed the meal; we did not just consume it. There was no waste: no wasted food, no wasted time, no wasted opportunity to look into our neighbor’s eye, share an experience with them, and build community.

When I think about eternity I always picture a table. The table expands as it needs to so that there is room for everyone to sit together…and oh my goodness there is so much food. Everyone has enough. Everyone has the opportunity to share and connect. The people gathered around the table are patient and grateful. And since it is an experience that will last for eternity we enjoy it all; nothing is wasted.

In our Scripture text for this week Ezekiel is tasked with sharing or stewarding the plentiful blessings of the restored Promised Land to all God’s people. Everyone will have a portion. Everyone will share. Everyone will have enough. This is a vision of the Kingdom. This is a vision of true community. This is a vision I believe that God is leading us in fulfilling at Tuskawilla as we come around tables for meals, for leadership, for stewardship, and most especially for worship.

I am privileged to serve you. I am grateful to steward with you. And thanks be to God for being the source and guarantor for all our many blessings.

Prayer: “Father, we thank you, for you planted your holy name within our hearts. Knowledge and faith and life immortal Jesus your Son to us imparts. Lord, you have made all for your pleasure, and given us food for all our days, giving in Christ the bread eternal; yours is the power, be yours the praise. Watch o’er your church, O Lord, in mercy, save it from evil, guard it still; perfect it in your love, unite it, cleansed and comforted unto your will. As grain, once scattered on the hillsides, was in the broken bread made one, so from all lands your church be gathered into your kingdom by your Son.”* Amen.

*”Father, We Thank You,” The United Methodist Hymnal 563.

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