Quinn G. Caldwell
"To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God…" - Psalm 123
In The Lord of the Rings, the great kingdom of Gondor was ruled by a king. He had a Steward who held the realm for him when he was away. One day, the king went to war and died without any heirs. So the Stewards waited. For 25 generations, the Stewards of Gondor wielded all the power of the king. They swore that they were only doing it until the return of the king, and they thought they meant it. Once a son of a Steward asked how long it would take before a Steward became a king in his own right. He said, "Few years, maybe, in places of less royalty…in Gondor, ten thousand years would not suffice."
Then one day the king returned, or at least his heir. And the steward, who really had believed he was just holding all that power and wealth in trust for just such a moment, couldn't handle it. He set himself on fire and jumped from the walls of a tower. After 25 generations, you can hardly blame him for having a hard time adjusting.
Christians claim the same thing that the Stewards of Gondor did: all our power and all our wealth is derivative, held in trust and exercised on behalf of the one to whom it belongs: Jesus. One of the ways we prepare for his return, to try to not be undone when he finally shows back up, is by being generous. We give our stuff—especially our money—away as a means of reminding ourselves to whom it all really belongs. We try to use it as he would have done. We practice—and if your pastor has shown up to work at all in the last few weeks, you can see where I'm headed here—stewardship.
Jesus has been gone a long time. How long would it take before you or I become owners of all our stuff in our own right? Few years, maybe, in places of less divinity…in the Church, all the ages of the world would not suffice.
God, thank you for all these blessings. I'm happy to hold them till you need them; when you do, help me to let them go. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is Pastor and Teacher at Plymouth Congregational Church, UCC, in Syracuse, New York, and co-editor, with Curtis J. Preston, of the Unofficial Handbook of the United Church of Christ, published by The Pilgrim Press.