Plenty versus Enough
Carol Fitzpatrick, Certified Lay Speaker
November 21, 2010
Did you have enough to eat so far today? Great! Are there any among us
who is hungry right now? Who will give this person something to eat and
drink? We have plenty to share in the Adams Craig Room following each
worship service. As a matter of fact, we all have had Enough so far today in
this wonderful land of Plenty.
But we all know this is not the case in many places, both in our community
and far away. How do we determine what is enough and what is plenty? It
is relative to one’s circumstances, isn’t it?
Let’s say we grew up in an arid climate where droughts are common. Water
is a precious commodity, something to be conserved, reused when
possible and carefully rationed. Being a “green” family, we research the
best ways to utilize this precious resource with cisterns, planning succulent
plants, not trying to have a Tru-Green lawn which would require frequent
watering – things of this nature. Our well has enough water in it to sustain
our needs and we have set aside several days’ worth of bottled water in
case of a prolonged dry spell. This signifies that we have enough water.
The opportunity arises for a trip to Niagara Falls. We travel a distance to
the overlook where the great river plunges down 176 feet at a rate of
150,000 gallons per second. I believe this would qualify as plenty of water.
This story is actually true, as told to me by my 4th grade teacher. Many
years ago a group of Catholic nuns from northern Africa traveled to the
United States and included Niagara Falls in their itinerary. They were
awestruck at the sight of the water flowing over the Falls.
Looking at this another way, let’s consider what we need to get by. Doesn’t
that depend on who we are and where we are in our lives?
If we are a preteen, we may think we cannot go to school without the very
latest shoes or purse that our peers are wearing. Or if we do not carry a
cellular device – no longer called a cell phone – we are not cool.
If we live in Manhattan and work on Wall Street, we will not be accepted
unless we dress in a particular manner with clothes from a certain group of
retailers. At least that is what the movies would have us believe.
Plenty vs. Enough – Carol Fitzpatrick 2 11/21/10
And for others, what is a trip to a theme park if the kids do not return home
with t-shirts and toys?
But what does all this mean in relation to our brothers and sisters in Christ,
to our neighbors?
The Scripture reading from Mark 14:3-9 describes indignation of some of
the apostles at Mary Magdalene’s apparent misuse of a valuable perfume
when she poured it over Jesus prior to his burial.
They felt it should have been sold and the money given to the poor. But
Jesus’ response was that we will always have the poor around us.
Does that mean we should ignore their needs and keep to ourselves? Of
course not. There are hungry people in our community that we are feeding
through many programs such as Project Share, My Brother’s Table and
many others. And how many times do we drop coins into those jars asking
for support for special purposes or the Mission Church?
A question that arises is “How much do we give?” Do we give until it hurts?
Do we trust that God will meet our needs? Let’s look at a Scripture passage
that applies here. In the Gospel of Mark Chapter 12, verses 41-44, he
describes how Jesus sat watching as people placed their offerings and
taught a valuable lesson.
Mark 12: 41-44 “Jesus sat opposite the place where the offering were put
and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many
rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor woman came and put in two
very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.” Calling his
disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put
more into the treasury than all the others. They gave out of their wealth; but
she, out of her poverty, put in everything she had to live on.” (NIV)
It all boils down to trust, doesn’t it? In this passage, we can see how the
poor widow trusted that God would meet her needs when she gave all she
had. Not just when she gave what she felt she could spare. Can we make it
to work without that special cappuccino for our commute?
What would the relatives think if we were to re-gift or better yet, not use
credit cards this Christmas season?
Plenty vs. Enough – Carol Fitzpatrick 3 11/21/10
In my own life, when a few of my nieces have married within the past few
years, knowing that they do not need another toaster or blanket, it is a far
better thing for me to make a gift to Project Share than send a check that I
know could be better used by someone who really needs it.
We all have to find our own way in reaching out to those in need. There
are so many, in these economic times, living on the edge of financial
disaster. On a personal level, last year when I broke my arm and my
income was greatly reduced, if it were not for the generosity of unnamed
persons within our church, we could have been in financial ruin. Our church
assisted us with utility bills and such. And so we give back in kind.
It has been said that the middle class is being squeezed so tightly that we
are living and working for 1960’s wages. It may be true, I don’t know. I do
know that if I struggle, and I am going to work every day, and have a roof
over my head, and can pretty much keep up with my bills, how much
harder it is for the person who has to make do on less of a paycheck with
more mouths to feed.
Maybe they do not have health insurance, or are just above the limit to
qualify for food stamps. And their elderly parent is getting sicker all the time
so they miss work to care for them or a special needs child. These are the
realities of so many that we as United Methodists are asked, not mandated,
by our Savior to help. It is how we help them that we are given the choice.
Will we step out of our comfort zone and give until we feel the pinch,
trusting God to meet us where we have need?
Remember, this is the God who told St. Paul, “My grace is sufficient for
thee.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
While this may have been said in response to Paul’s plea to remove the
thorn in his flesh, the message still applies here.
Trust God. He will supply our needs. God’s enough will be our plenty.