We are a culture of images. On television, in movies, from billboards, even on our cell phones, everywhere we turn images seek to capture our attention and imagination. The church understands the power and importance of images, from the Office for Film and Broadcasting today to the use of stained glass to convey faith and doctrine in the Middle Ages. Images can distract us from what truly matters or help deepen and clarify our spiritual growth.
As we continue to mature into our lives of stewardship, the Diocese has sought to create an image that will help us reflect on some of the key elements of that journey.
The central focus of the image is hands raised to God in gratitude and sacrifice. Throughout the bible, the cup or bowl signifies who we are, what we have, or where we are headed. God’s blessings, salvation, and judgment are all represented by the cup in the Old Testament (Psalms 23:5, 116:13; Isaiah 51:22), and Jesus uses the imagery to communicate his acceptance of the sacrifice he will make for humanity (Mathew 20:22; Mark 14:36; John 18:11). In our stewardship image, the cup represents our offering back to God of all we are and all we have in thanks for his gifts and as an acknowledgement that He is the Source of all.
Beneath the cup, the stalks of wheat pay homage to the Diocese’s deep roots in agriculture and echo the Eucharistic life that sustains and empowers us in Christ. As Pope Benedict XVI recently wrote in his apostolic exhortation on the Eucharist, “In the sacrament of the altar, the Lord meets us, men and women created in God's image and likeness (Gen. 1:27), and becomes our companion along the way.”
Recently we have become even more aware of the precious nature of water and our essential need for it. The water imagery depicted evokes both our baptism, the beginning of our salvation journey and call to stewardship, as well as the “living water” Christ offers the Samaritan woman and which leads to eternal life (John 4:13-14). As God nourishes us with the living water, we offer back all his grace imparts, but even our constant sacrifice cannot adequately return the abundance of His love and goodness toward us, and our cup overflows (Psalm 23:5).
Finally, the shape of the water imagery also reminds us of the flame of the Holy Spirit that first settled on the Apostles at Pentecost (Acts 2). Christ promised the Spirit as a teacher to guide us to the truth and in the daily realities of being His disciple (John 14:25-26; Galatians 5:16-26). The Spirit gives us the wisdom and strength to live as stewards in the unique way God has created us.
St. Augustine once wrote, “Love God and do what you will.” Perhaps that best captures the call of stewardship. As we continually turn our faces to God in love, we offer up all we are in gratitude, and He pours his grace and presence back into the heart of our deepest being and desire. In turn, all our thoughts and actions radiate the glow of this mystery to those we reach out to serve in Christ’s name.