Age: 8+ years
Liturgical Time: Any
Archdiocese website, www.stewardship.goarch.org
Visit the stewardship website of our archdiocese www.stewardship.goarch.org
See the article, "Christian Stewardship: Reaching our Spiritual Potential," www.goarch.org/en/archdiocese/departments/stewardship/PDF/estewpot.pdf
Recognize, The Parable of the Vineyard, Matthew 21.33-41
Invest, The Parable of the Ten Talents, Matthew 25.14-30
Return, The Story of the Widow's mite, Mark 12.41-44
Lesson 1: I Recognize That All I Have Comes From God
There was a householder who planted a vineyard...and let it out to tenants...(from the Parable of the Vineyard, Matt 21.33-41)
Who Owns this Vineyard?
In this short parable we are told how a landowner cultivated his land, planted the vines, and then leased all of this to tenants before moving to another country. When harvest time came, the landowner sent his servants to collect his share of the harvest but the tenants were greedy, and unwilling to share. Instead, they decided to keep everything for themselves and were unwilling to give the landowner his share. The landowner, on the other hand, was generous he had given them control of his vast estate. All that was asked of them was that they share a part of the harvest.
This parable reminds each of us that we are not the real owners of our possessions or gifts. Rather we have been placed for a moment of time as stewards over all that we have. The landowner, our Lord, gives us so many blessings and sends His servants in the disguise of the needy to ask for His share. We say during the Divine Liturgy, "Thine own of Thine own, we offer unto Thee, O Lord on behalf of all, and for all" and also "For every good and perfect gift is from above, coming from You, the Father of lights". Being tenants of the Lord's vineyard we should not be greedy or faithless but put all our trust in God. Consider, how much of our sense of security rests in our possessions? How much of our self-worth is based upon what we own? How much of our faith really rests in God and not in our bank account balance? In reality, how can we trust in the Lord, when we have substituted so many created things for the Creator?
What can we do? The first step requires acknowledgment that we are not the owners of anything we have: not our time, not our talents, not our treasures, and not even our family ... nothing is ours. All of it is on loan from God, and we are stewards, required to use the resources He has entrusted to us, according to His specific will. This is radically different from the values and ideas of the society in which we live but we are not called to follow the crowd; we are called to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We are not owners; we are caretakers, and stewards of His bountiful gifts.
Read and discuss the parable of the vineyard in Matthew chapter 22, verses 33 through 41, identifying the characters, and their roles. Take time to list on paper your blessings and become aware of the many gifts the Lord has entrusted to you. Of the gifts/things you have, which do you have the most difficulty turning over to God?
Lesson 2: Invest it or Lose it
For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. (From the parable of the Ten talents, Matthew 25.14-30, verse 29).
Like in the parable of the Ten Talents our Lord has given each of us talents, gifts, and skills. We are to invest, multiply, and use them as good stewards for His glory and the good of our neighbors. In sharing our gifts with our neighbors ultimately we are serving the Lord (Matthew 25:31-46).
What are our talents? Sometimes the gifts we have been given are simple or few in number. In the parable one person received ten talents while another only received one. The point is whether we possess many talents or only a few we must realize that God has given them all to us.
In the parable the servant with one talent is condemned because he does not invest or use the talent he has been given. Once we know what our gifts are, we have to be courageous and bold enough to use them. This might mean we change careers, change how we live, or return to school. More to the point it might mean that we allow ourselves to get involved even if our involvement might put our personal lives at risk, and result in being wounded or hurt by others.
The servant with one talent was afraid to take a risk. Being lazy and afraid he hid his talent in the ground, which was safe, and risk-free. In the end because he didn't use his talent but buried it he lost it: "Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents (Matthew. 25:28). A gift unused is a gift wasted. A gift unused is a missed opportunity to be part of carrying out God's will, a missed chance at becoming for our neighbors God's ears, His hands, His feet, and His love. For it is in this way, by distributing gifts to God's people, that God gets work done in the world. May each of us be part of God in discovering and using our gifts for His glory and our salvation.
Read and discuss with someone the parable of the talents, Matthew 25.14-30.
List several ways you can develop the gifts you identified from the "vineyard home study."
Develop a plan of how to use your gifts in a concrete way.
Lesson 3: Return to God
"And a poor widow came, and put in two copper coins, which make a penny. And He called his disciples to Him, and said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow has put more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living.'" (From the story of the Widow's Mite, Mark 12.41-44, vs. 43-44).
God has given us everything that we have. None of us would be alive if it was not for God creating us with the help, of course of our parents.
The widow in the gospel passage above realized that everything she had was from God. Earlier in the same passage Jesus observed people putting money into the treasury of the Temple and many people gave more money than the widow. Those people, however, the passage tells us were wealthy. The gifts they gave were very nice. Her gift however was even greater than because while, they gave out of their abundance, she gave out of her poverty (Mk 12:44). This gospel lesson teaches us one of the most basic elements of stewardship—proportionate giving. In the Old Testament, God taught the Israelites to give a tithe offering. A tithe was ten percent of what someone had. Let's say that a shepherd had ten sheep. He would give one of the ten or 10% to the temple that would be used for the families that cared for the temple, for widows, and indigents, people who couldn't care for themselves. Let's say another shepherd had 100 sheep and gave 9 to the temple. Looking at his offering, it appears much greater than the first shepherd's, after all, 9 is more than 1. However, when we look at proportionate giving, his offering of nine would be less than the other shepherd's offering of one because his offering was 9% of what he had while the other's was 10%. The widow's offering was even greater because as Jesus tells us, she "… put in everything she had"(Mk 12:44). She gave everything, or 100%, to God. What do we learn from this passage? We learn that even though the widow's offering appeared to be less than the others, it actually was more. It was only two copper coins, while the others gave several silver coins. However, proportionately, her offering was much greater.
Read the story of the widow and discuss it with someone. (Mk 12: 41-44)
We speak of stewardship of time, talents and resources or treasures. There are 24 hours in a day. Allowing 9 hours for sleep, ten percent of the remaining 15 hours is 1 ½ hours. List ways that you can give 1 ½ hours a day or 10 hours a week to God. The goal is to be creative and think outside the box.
Make a budget and prayerfully consider giving a monetary offering to God. Make it a "proportionate" offering. Adults prayerfully look at your finances and consider a proportionate offering. The tithe or 10% may either be a goal or a beginning point. Remember the widow.
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