Friday, December 5, 2008

The Poverty of Wealth

"I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on." Luke 21:4

I have been attending a meeting all day of the Standing Commission in the Episcopal Church. Today, we talked about many topics in preparation for our general convention next summer in Anaheim. Our focus is on Peace and Justice Concerns in the International Arena. We have a wealth of things to say about the human rights violations across the world. Some situations give rise to great discussion, others not so much. I notice, among a group of church people, who are for the most part very well off, we are rich with words of condemnation of others' atrocities and completely complacent about our own constant individual and corporate blindness to the needs inside and outside our borders. We love to mess in others' business, but we don't want anyone messing in ours. We have an avalanche of advice, but compartmentalize the truth that sits next to us, daily, aching to be honored and fed. How little we connect our great abundance with the needs of the world. We happily smile at the severed lines that we have cut. And yet, we complain mightily about the cuts in the budget, but no one offers to give part of their wealth to this all important work. No one wants to offer their mite to the crying need. I don't want to sound harsh, but the truth of church politics is no different the the temple politics in Jesus' time. The disciples didn't notice the act of the widow nor the act of the wealthy. To them it was the normal life of a temple community.They didn't make the connection. But Jesus noticed. Jesus notices the poverty of wealth, the poverty of heart which demands that one is constantly hedging and protecting their assets when they had an abundance. The widow has little to loose, so she gave her all. The uncommon hero is a normal temple scene. The one who God watches with eyes that see the heart. The who we will always remember. She went to bed with an empty stomach but a rich and full heart.

Today, I want to live, this first Friday of Advent, as if the eyes of God are upon my heart. Am I giving only in safety, am I impoverished by my self-protection and rich with sentimentality but short on compassion? Or am I sacrificial, acting and living like God is the giver? Am I living as if it isn't mine to hold on to, but rather a seed to plant for the whole world? Can I trust God today to provide? None of us likes the discomfort of not knowing where the next gift will come from and instead we storehouse God's generosity thinking it is for us alone. I want to fling open the doors of the store house. I want to share it all so that God can replenish my life and my heart. Will I have to wait? Yes. Is it scary? Yes. But for today, I want to live like only God is watching and there is no one to impress. I pray that we can all have the courage, if but for a little while, to live as if the Prince of Peace, the Babe of Bethlehem, the Savior of the World is grateful for our poverty, grateful for our empty hands, smiling at our ability to freely give away the gifts that love alone has made.

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