Last Sunday we began our series on Stewardship during Sunday Circle, the adult version of Sunday School that meets at 9:30 a.m. in Old Brick. Together with Kayode Fatodu, our Stewardship Chair, I led the session. We are using a little book called Stewardship and the Care for Souls. It is a pretty interesting read, and I would recommend you grab one for yourself.
In our conversation, I told a story from my native Akan tribe in Ghana. According to this folklore, Odumankoma - which is one of the many names of God - made sure at creation that every living human being was divine. The divinity in each human being was meant to help each stay in perfect union with Odumankoma. However, because human beings couldn’t help themselves by sinning, Odumankoma decided to take the divinity away from human beings and hide it. But the question arose as to where Odumankoma was going to hide it.
"If I hide it high above the heavens, the creativity and ingenuity of humans is such that they would find it. If I hide it under the earth, at the very bottom, where no one has ever been, human originality, imagination, and resourcefulness is such that humans will find it." After deep pondering, Odumankoma said to Himself, “I know what to do. I will hide it within humans themselves.” And so Odumankoma hid divinity in human beings.
To find our divine selves therefore, we need not look any further than the eye can see, nor do we have to look anywhere beyond ourselves, we have to look deep within ourselves. Our task, yours and mine, is to always dig within us and take ownership of the divinity that is in us. The beauty in this task is that to take ownership is also to assume responsibility.
As distant as the Akan folklore is from what we read in Genesis 1 - Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. - it shouldn’t be lost on us that both narratives attest to a uniquely human character, that there’s a divine part to each one of us - to all of us.
To search for this divine quality that is already in you is to be on the right path. To find it is akin to the story Jesus told of a merchant who went in search of fine pearls and when he found one of great value, sold all that he had, and bought that one pearl. To find this divine quality is to take ownership of it, not to control or overshadow it but to tend to it, be responsible for it, and invest in it.
I learned that we could accumulate wealth by being stingy, but we cannot create wealth by being stingy. If we want to create wealth, we have to invest money. When we hear about Wall Street, it is about investing money to create wealth. Some of the people who work on Wall Street may not be religious and may not invest in a church, but they do invest in causes they believe in.
In that same vein, when we say we believe in God, when we say we believe in righteousness, when we say we believe in transforming and nurturing lives, when we say we believe in hope, peace, healing, kindness, compassion, reconciliation and love-attributes of God, it is our solemn responsibility to invest in the church - the one place where each of us is not only formed to search, find, and tend to the divine in us, but to also build and develop a long-lasting relationship with the divine and with those who bear the same imprint of the divine in us.
To invest in a faith community like Christ Church is not only about taking ownership of what happens here at Christ Church, but it is about being responsible for what happens here at Christ Church. And if you ask me, what happens here at Christ Church is made possible because you have wholeheartedly embraced God’s vision for your life, for the people that you love, and for the people that this community of faith touches with your generosity.
I give thanks to God for each of you and for how much you mean to me and this community of faith. Your generosity and kindness bring life to this place, and the reason is that you see the beauty that is made possible by your kindness.
I’d like to share an Arabic saying with you: The beauty you see in anything is a reflection of the beauty in you. You can see the beauty that happens here because that beauty is a reflection of you. We feel God’s blessings. We have embraced God’s provision. We walk on God’s path. We breathe God’s providence. We honor God. We serve God by serving the other. Everything about you and me tells of God’s providential hand in our lives. And I am grateful for that.
Odumankuma hid in each of us a unique part of Him. And for that, our gratitude should know no bounds, nor should it be encumbered because it is this divine part that brings to life all the goodness in us.
And if my generous giving or faithful investment in my church - Christ Church - would help bring life to this goodness, then there’s no other way that I could be more honored than that.
To pledge to Christ Church for 2024, please visit www.christchurchcolumbia.org/2024-pledge