Our monthly Finance Committee meeting was moving slowly. The subject was stewardship, and the support of the budget. My friend Joan commented, “Perhaps the folks in our congregation aren’t sure what the word “stewardship” means.”
With that thought running through my mind, you aren’t going to believe what happened on the way home. It’s true. I was approached (in my mind) by the cute little mouse whose picture you see below.
He introduced himself to me. “Pardon me”, he said in a squeaky little voice. “My name is Jonathan Steward”.
As we drove slowly down the road to my home, the little fellow related a story to me about his home, his life and family which I simply cannot resist sharing with you.
Please read on…
“I’m not just a church mouse,” he said. “I am not an ordinary field mouse.”
“ I am an extraordinary Church Mouse and I don’t live in my church home by accident.”
“You see, I wanted a real church for my home; searching far and wide, at least a hundred feet, in all directions. I was looking for the right church home. “
“One day, I happened upon God’s Church in Friendlyville by beautiful Blue Lake.“
“I’ve always considered it a very special privilege to live in God’s Church. My friends and family can tell you how often I boast about my wonderful church home at mouse reunions, and mouse conventions, and other mouse gatherings that only a mouse ever hears about.“
I know all about God. You see, I am a CMK. For those of you who’ve never heard of a CMK, I’ll be happy to explain. There’s really nuthin’ to it. It’s just that my Daddy was a Church Mouse, my Granddaddy was a Church Mouse and it runs in our family. I’m just an average “C”hurch “M”ouse “K”id.
I love every square inch of my church home. I especially like the wastebasket in the kitchen; there are all sorts of lovely crumbs there for me to snack upon. I enjoy the wastebasket in the Sunday school room too. There are sometimes special pieces of paper that help to line my nest; and I especially enjoy the loose corner of the carpet at the back of the sanctuary. I often lie there in my warm little nest and listen to the pastor’s sermon on Sunday morning.
There are lots of special places in my church home; like the hole in the plaster near the front door. Someone pounded a nail to hang a wreath at Christmas time. (Plaster crumbs make a sturdy floor in a mouse nest, you know.)
One day, while I was resting behind the water fountain in the hallway, Mr. Green was carefully filling the nail hole with putty; sanding and painting over it. He wanted it to look just like the rest of the wall. Mr. Green, you see, is a trustee and he fixes things around God’s Church all the time. Mr. Green calls God’s Church his church home too. I can’t quite figure it out, after all Mr. Green doesn’t “live” there like I do; but I can see that Mr. Green cares for the church and wants to do his part in taking care of it.
One of my favorite days at God’s Church is Thursday; the day the children’s choir comes to practice their songs. I get excited as the hour for their practice draws near; spending my time flying to the back door, racing to the front door, scurrying to the piano, then out to the kitchen and back to the front door again. When the children finally arrive, I’m tired. And I go to my lovely warm nest in the back of the church where the carpet is turned up; and listen to the children sing about God.
Oh what joy! What a heavenly sound! I feel good all over knowing how much the children like to sing about God, in God’s Church, on Thursday afternoon.
Sometimes, as I listen to the joyful music of the children’s choir,
I close my eyes and dream my favorite dream.
That dream is about a boat. It isn’t an ordinary houseboat. It isn’t an ordinary sail boat. It’s an EXTRA-ordinary Mouse Boat! (You might even call it a Ship.) I want to sail in my very own ship on beautiful Blue Lake near God’s Church.
In case you haven’t guessed, I love God very, very much. And, being a church mouse and all, I know what it’s like to be able to live in God’s house. I know people like to come to God’s Church on Sunday morning and sing songs about God, and listen to the pastor talk about God, and pray to God with their eyes shut.
I’m very interested in the ways of PEOPLE. I’ve noticed not all people pray with their eyes shut! But, being a church mouse, I know God hears prayers whether eyes are closed or open.
Back to my dream….
I remember from reading the Mouse Translation (MT) of my Bible, that Jesus was very interested in boats. Many times he came to be with his disciples when they were riding in boats and fishing in boats and doing all the things that people do in boats.
In my dream, Jesus comes to sail with me on my boat as we drift from shore to shore on beautiful Blue Lake. I know how wonderful it would be to be very, very close to him. My dream of sailing with Jesus on my very own boat brings real pleasure to me. (In case you haven’t noticed, I spend a lot of time dreaming.)
When my dreams are interrupted by PEOPLE. People come to God’s Church to DO things, like putting on DINNERS and having SUNDAY SCHOOL classes, and YOUTH meetings, and PRAYER meetings, and more meetings like FINANCE, and MISSIONS, and WORSHIP COMMITTEE, and CHOIR PRACTICE, and FINANCE MEETINGS. And TRUSTEE meetings…and..
I can scarcely find time to dream at all with the meetings to attend and classes to attend, and dinners to attend. (I especially like the after dinner clean up time.)
Then there is painting to do and lawns to mow and FINANCE???
Well…It’s getting so I am so busy attending meetings and dinners and choir practice, I hardly have time to dream about my ship and a closer friendship with Jesus while drifting from shore to shore on beautiful Blue Lake not far from God’s Church.
Be that as it may, I am a very happy, very warm, very lively, and yes even lovely (if I do say so myself,) church mouse.
My dream, even though I don’t have much time to dream it any more, gives me something to think about when I’m not busy doing things for God’s Church.
AND THEN IT HAPPENED!
You aren’t going to believe this, but it really happened. It was on a sunny Sunday morning and the announcements were being read. I was in my usual place at the end of the sanctuary where the carpet is curled up. I was watching the people praying with their eyes shut. Then I heard it!
THERE WILL BE A MEETING ON MONDAY NIGHT..THAT’S TOMORROW. IT WOULD BE NICE IF YOU ALL COULD ATTEND. WE WILL DISCUSS…STEWARDSHIP.
I stood, frozen, on my favorite piece of carpet. My ears were quivering. A series of loops totally out of my control appeared in my tail. My eyes filled with tears.
God’s people were going to have a meeting about Steward’s Ship. I didn’t think I could wait until Monday.
The meeting began promptly at 8 p.m. with only 10 people attending. I was astonished at such a small number of people attending such an important church meeting in which I, personally, had a tremendous interest. Hadn’t the minister invited ALL the people to attend? Maybe, just maybe, ALL the people weren’t interested in Steward’s Ship. There was one thing for sure, I would be forever grateful if those people could help to make my dream come true.
Jonathan Steward’s Ship… I would have my very own ship to sail on lovely Blue Lake, in the company of Jesus.
This would definitely be the most important evening I had ever spent in God’s Church. These 10 wonderful people were going to spend the entire meeting talking about Steward’s Ship.
Suddenly I perked up my ears!
Mr. Smith was talking about the need to have more people come to the Sunday worship service. (What did that have to do with my ship?) Mr. Green was saying something about the need to fix a hole in the church roof.
My stars, couldn’t anyone stay on the subject at hand?
Mrs. Jones, sitting on the edge of her chair, said, “We certainly need to encourage more people who like to sing, to join our choir.” And then, Mr. Black, the chairman said…
“Maybe we should concentrate on getting to know each other and enjoying a closer personal friendship with God, and getting to know Him better. We need to learn how to serve Him in God’s Church and out of God’s Church and….” (Whew, I said to myself, as I whisked perspiration from my forehead, now they’re getting back to the subject at hand.) My dream ship was just the place for me to get closer to God.
I live in God’s Church and spending time on my dream ship would get me out of God’s Church and through God’s Church I was about to have my dream come true.
I crossed my ears at what I heard next.
“Of course”, the Steward’s Ship committee chairman was saying, “we have to realize that many people here in God’s Church don’t really know what Steward’s Ship is and it’s our place to explain it to them.”
I simply could not take it any more. This meeting had gotten out of hand. Of course, everyone knew what Steward’s Ship was. Well, didn’t they? This very meeting had been called to discuss it. Hadn’t it?
“One of the best things we could do,” (the committee chairman was still speaking), “would be to make sure our members and friends here at God’s Church understand all the many ways there are for Christians to offer stewardship to God through the church.
They want to offer my ship to God?
I felt a lump in my little mouse throat and a warm tear slowly tumbled down my nose. But, it didn’t seem to me that the chairman was talking about MY ship. It didn’t seem possible, it couldn’t be possible there was another kind of Steward’s Ship.
Until now, I had been sitting very, very still and listening very, very closely and leaning comfortably against the leg of Mrs. Jones’ chair. OFFER STEWARD’S SHIP TO GOD?
“And”, the chairman was saying, “everyone in God’s church is a STEWARD.
THAT DID IT!
I couldn’t help myself. I jumped straight up into the air from the special place I had been sitting, right beside Mrs. Jones’ leg. My long grey tail…oh dear…brushed against…oh my..Mrs. Jones’ leg!
And Mrs. Jones, oh my, well to put it mildly…Mrs. Jones EXCLAIMED LOUDLY!
I was startled to say the very least; upset to say more than the very least, and headed straight to my lovely warm nest in the back of the church to recover my composure. I’m sure the entire committee on Steward’s Ship, especially Mrs. Jones, attempted to regain their composure too.
It was time to think about the events of the evening and the meeting on Steward’s Ship. Now, feeling calmer, I very quietly crept back to the door of the committee room. (Not the inside of the door, mind you, but the outside.) My long grey tail was carefully tucked beneath me. (I certainly didn’t want to upset anyone again.) There was a need to hear more about this committee’s meaning of Steward’s Ship.
The members had now regained their composure. I listened intently as Mr. Brown spoke. “We should tell people about all the things that are part of Stewardship”, he said. “Like mowing the lawn and fixing holes in the plaster; working on dinners and serving on committees such as the Worship Committee and the Education Committee.
This was amazing.
Apparently there was quite a bit about this other kind of Steward’s Ship. I already knew about all those things about which Mr. Brown was speaking.
What I didn’t know was that PEOPLE called the doing of those things STEWARDSHIP.
I was beginning to get a joyful feeling again. Yes I was. I was feeling joy for sure.
Mrs. Jones was saying, “We must tell God’s Church people that the doing of these things helps to bring them into a closer relationship to God”.
I was stunned! Yes I was. I was stunned!
A closer relationship with God was exactly what I was looking for and I was sure I could find that on my own little ship, (Steward’s Ship), while sailing around with Jesus on lovely Blue Lake.
I began to wonder if it was possible the very thing I was hoping for could be found right here in God’s Church? It could be found in my very own church home?
“And”, the chairman was saying, “We need to explain to God’s Church people about finance”. (There was that word again, FINANCE.) What did FINANCE have to do with stewardship for heaven’s sake? I edged closer, determined to find out once and for all about this FINANCE thing.
“We have to let the people know that the finance of the church, the people’s offering of their money for God’s use, is one of the most important parts of stewardship.“
I felt myself breathing a sigh of relief. Money was one thing a church mouse doesn’t have to worry about. But, as I listened, I began to realize that money, and the offering of it to God’s Church, is part of what God expects from His people.
I began to realize, with a bit of surprise, that the giving of a portion of one’s money to God’s Church brings people into a closer relationship with God.
Now beginning to realize something else, I knew my dream hadn’t been lost. It wasn’t lost at all.
My dream was real.
I could get closer to God right here in my own church home by working and serving and helping and giving of my mouse time..my mouse abilities and mouse knowledge, especially on church mouse problems.
Knowing without a doubt, that even though church mice don’t have money, once God’s people learned what stewardship is about, they would give their time and money as well as their abilities to the church.
Because of their giving, God’s people would have a closer relationship to God.
I felt good and warm and joyful again; and all happy inside,
Returning to my lovely warm nest at the back of the sanctuary, I felt safe in the feeling of being very, very close to God.
My ship is safely tied to the dock and Jesus knows where I am……
all the time.
Mary Anne Whitchurch Tuck