“Be the change you want to see in the world.”(Gandhi)
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”(Winston Churchill)
The election is FINALLY over …. and we have elected a President for the next four years. Without a doubt, we have different feelings and different opinions about the outcome of Tuesday’s national vote. More than 60 million people are pleased with the result. More than 58 million people are disappointed — and perhaps dismayed.
To move beyond the obvious mixed feelings — to somehow move forward together as a nation — we are all going to have to DIG DEEP …. and go beyond words — and even prayers.
Regardless of who we voted for — I believe that all of us voted from deep feelings and convictions. We voted from the heart.
I believe, too, that we all want some sense of peace and civility. We are all so tired of bickering, finger-pointing, and downright ugliness. For myself, I want people to work together for a common good. I want people to speak to one another with respect.
In the Gospel (Mark 12:38-44), Jesus praised a poor widow who from her poverty gave all she had, in fact, he says, “her whole livelihood”. Her two small coins, worth a few cents, outweighed …. in his eyes … the wealthy folks who gave large sums of money. She dug deep — while the others skimmed the surface.
The gospel story echoes the story from the first Book of Kings (1 Kings 17:10-16) where the widow of Zarephath unknowingly shared with the prophet a little cake — made with the last of her flour and oil — which she and her son were to eat. For her generosity, the prophet promised that in her household, the jar of flour would not go empty and the jug of oil would not run dry.
A one night national television telethon raised more than $23 million for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Once again, the generosity of our people shined in the darkness. Not knowing if their money was going to a Democrat or Republican — a black person or a white person or a Hispanic person … an old man or a little girl, people gave … in the final week of a political campaign where there was argument about the size of government and the role of government, the basic goodness of mankind came through one more time.
Some pastors may choose to preach on stewardship this weekend — and a few may talk about putting in a few extra dollars in the collection. Of course, this is not wrong. But, the scripture may be speaking a little bit more about money.
If we want a more civil society — if we want kids to stop bullying other kids — if we want Republicans and Democrats to compromise before our nation goes over a FISCAL CLIFF … then maybe we do need to be the change we want to see in others. AND, this is not easy … it requires us to go deep into our souls and to give until it hurts.
A kind word, a little sacrifice, an act of kindness — all these things make someone feel better and provide a lift in spirit. But, to really change things … we have to go beyond the surface effort, the giving from our surplus. It means being available to someone else when it is not convenient to us. It means listening when we are tired and just want to be quiet and alone. It means giving something — to get something. It means BELIEVING DEEP IN OUR HEARTS that we do not always have to have our way — it means that we will not die if we do without something we want.
I believe that everyone needs to be passionate about some cause outside of themselves. It may mean supporting a mission in Haiti. It may mean working to build affordable housing in our community. It may mean being a “big brother” or “big sister.” It may mean visiting a nursing home. And what I am most passionate about may not stir your heart at all — and vice versa. We do not have to be passionate about the same thing. We need to be passionate about something —- we have to have a heart on fire with a desire to help, a desire to share.
In preaching on stewardship, most of us will begin by saying something like, “no matter how much we have or how little we have — it all has been shared with us by God — for just a short time. We came into the world with nothing and we leave with nothing. What we have we have “on loan” from God …. in a sense we own nothing, we are only holding it for a short while.
One thing we all have is a life … a day with 24 hours … a week with 7 days. How we use what we have is not a reflection of how much we have —- rather, how we use what we have is a reflection of our faith in God and our belief that life can be good when we all do what we can do. Hmmmmm, a reflection of my FAITH.
No one can feed everyone …. but we can feed one, or two, or a few.
Listen to the beginning of the Gospel selection: BEWARE OF THE SCRIBES, who like to go around in long robes …..accepting places of honor …..devouring the houses of the widows, as a pretext, reciting lengthy prayers …