Europe is home to fine arts, marvelous architecture, history, vast cultural heritage created over centuries. It also has some of the world’s most intriguing festivals. To name a few; Running of the Bulls, Battle of the Oranges, Air Guitar World Championship, La Tomatina and the Near-Death Festival. There is also the Ice Music Festival taking place annually in Norway. This is an extraordinary event where musicians perform all types of music using only instruments made of ice. If you think about it, snow and ice are some of the most colorless, shapeless, most fragile and unstable substances on the planet. But that does not prevent the dedicated group of musicians, ice sculptors and sound technicians from all around the world to work tirelessly for days and weeks preparing for the festival. The obstacles they face are many; the ice breaks easily, it is hard to tune, the tone of the instrument changes hourly depending on the temperature. But they work tirelessly, patiently and passionately. Due to all the effort and love they invest in this project, the lifeless and cold ice is transformed. It starts singing, sounding and producing the most subtle and unique sounds one can imagine. I believe these artists’ dedication, commitment, and love are true examples of stewardship in action. They use their God-given musical talents and understanding of ice to push the boundaries of what is possible, think outside of the box and put themselves out of their comfort zones. The result is nothing short of a miracle.
To better understand how deeply the concept of stewardship is embedded in our faith and life, let’s take a quick detour and allow our minds to travel back in time from twenty-first-century Norway to the beginning of time, to the Garden of Eden. The human being was created last, as the crown, completion and the center of the entire cosmos. God created humanity in the divine image and likeness. Humanity took an active part in the creation and acted as co-creators of God. God brought everything he made to Adam and asked him to name every one of them. To fully appreciate and understand this small detail’s depth, we have to remember the name’s significance in the ancient world. For the ancients, the name had power, the name defined and established the true nature and essence of the person and object it was applied to and also was connected and carried that object’s nature and power within itself. But then, after it all, God handed the creation to the human being and tasked him with caring for, attending and sustaining it by being God’s steward on earth. Humanity had to invest its time, energy, talents and ability to maintain and prosper what God gave to them. This interpretation might differ from what we remember, from what we learned and know, from the viewpoint passed to us from the modern interpretations and Hollywood depictions where it appears all Adam and Eve had to do was to rest, enjoy and consume. Yet, deep down the story of the creation is all about the importance of stewardship.
The spiritual definition and understanding of stewardship extend much further. We can apply it to virtually every aspect of our lives, to everything that brings meaning and value to our lives. From a spiritual perspective, everything noble that we treasure and love is a divine gift. These gifts need to be nurtured, cared for and attended by being good stewards, good husbands, parents, friends, coworkers and members of our community. Our wonderful community here in Hartford and this beautiful church are also divine gifts. The generations before cared for it, worked hard and gave everything they had to this community and church. Now it is our turn, now it is our opportunity to step in, be part of it by ensuring that the life-giving and healing message and role of St. George continues to shine its lights on our lives, the lives of our families and for generations to come. Last week we launched our stewardship campaign for 2021. I hope and pray that you will consider and be able to participate and take part in it. I am thankful to every one of you who did so in 2020, I am grateful that despite all the difficulties we have experienced this year you supported St. George and our community. May the loving Lord bless you for your stewardship today and forever, Amen.