Sunday, September 29, 2013

Parenting: being a steward of children

We use possessive language when we refer to our children. We procreate; they are our own flesh and blood. And one of our most famous Hollywood dads, Bill Cosby, is credited with saying, "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."

Have you ever considered the notion that they are not our children—they are God's—and we're just entrusted with their care here on Earth?

It's a familiar Christian concept with many things, especially material things. We use the word stewardship, and at this time of year you will likely hear the concept several times.

At our parish, like many others, we have stewardship Sunday, where we offer our varied gifts and talents to the various ministries and volunteer opportunities that make our parish vibrant.

Our diocese, like many others, launches its Bishop's Annual Appeal fundraising initiative that supports a variety of diocese-wide ministries. We are called to be good stewards of our time, talent and treasure to build up God's kingdom here on Earth.

Being a good steward means that something isn't really yours, but you treat it as if it was, taking care of it and trying to return it to its owner in better shape than when it was entrusted to you. Have you ever borrowed someone's car? You drive it more carefully than you do your own, don't you? You may even put a few extra bucks of gas in so they are likely to lend it to you in the future.

Jesus illustrates this concept best in the parable of the talents (cf Mat 25:14-30). A master trusts his servants with money and expects more money when he returns. It's not enough to return the original value, the master expects the state of his goods to have improved.

Now consider that concept in relation to our children. It's not unusual to think of people being God's children: God knit us in our mother's womb (cf Psalm 139); he knows every hair on our head (cf Mat 10:30); we shall be called children of God (cf John 1:12), and many many more. And we hope for the resurrection of the body for ourselves and our children, when we all return to the Father in our eternal home.

So if we are stewards of our children, that means it is our job to return them to the father better than their original state. It is our responsibility to have them initiated into Christ's family through the cleansing waters of Baptism and the other sacrements. It is our job to teach them what is right and good. It is our job to guide them along the path of holiness. We want what is best for them because we treat them as our own—and in a very real sense they are—but also because we want to celebrate their return to the Father, their entrance into Heaven, without stain of sin and ready to embrace the eternal and overwhelming love of our Saviour.

As we consider our gifts and talents and how we can be a good steward for our church community, let's also consider how we can be better stewards of God's children—a.k.a. parents.

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