Plenty versus Enough Carol Fitzpatrick, Certified Lay Speaker November 21, 2010 Good morning, 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. Amen.
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