Light two candles…begin your prayer time by lighting the first purple candle, the Hope candle and the second purple candle. The “Peace” candle…or the Prophecy candle…
READ: 2 Corinthians 8: 1-15
13 I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between 14 your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance.
I’d like to tell you a story. A true story. When I was in about the third grade, I did a bad bad thing. Every day, I got off the bus at my Granny Love’s house. I loved her so very much. She was my favorite person in the whole wide world.
One afternoon she took me to Ms. Millie’s shop. In third grade I had no concept of a “quilt shop,” but looking back, this little shop was only 4 minutes from my house. How times have changed.
Anyway, I remember walking through all the pretties until I came upon a little box of clear drawers – right at eye level. From behind that clear plastic, I could see teeny tiny little flowers in all sorts of blues and pinks and greens and yellows. The whole world disappeared around me. I slowly opened the first drawer. I lifted out a little patch of flowers and stared. I opened the next drawer. It was different, and tinier. I opened each of the drawers, filled to the brim with tiny little flower patches. There were so many. From each drawer, I took one and made a little pile.
Then, I put the little pile in my pocket.
It wasn’t like I was even thinking. I didn’t rationalize it. I just remember being so delighted with these little pretties and wanting to be close to them.
The next afternoon, after school, after finishing my homework, sitting at Granny’s dining room table, I pulled the little pretties from my pocket and laid them all out in front of me.
I just wanted to look at them. Absorb them.
“What are those?” Granny asked.
“There my little pretties,” I replied.
You know what she asked next, right? “Where did you get those?”
“From the little drawers at Ms. Millie’s.”
The little pretties went back into my pocket and I went back into the car, and we went back to Ms. Millie’s. Granny, never fussed or yelled. She patiently and calmly made me tell her that I took them. She also made me give them back. She never told anyone, not even my parents.
But that action told me a lot.
See, Ms. Millie had so many. What was wrong with me having a couple. That was fair. Right?
But they were not mine. They were hers to give or share or sell.
What told me more was that Ms. Millie, thanked me for returning them, and then gave me one. One of my very own.
I had the pretty, but it also “felt” fairer to me.
In our scripture lesson today, Paul is setting the balance for stewardship. He is setting the balance for sharing from our abundance, and not thinking about life from a scarcity model. First, our example for giving is Christ. Christ who was rich made himself poor – he died – for us – so that we might be “rich” in “life.”
Second his example is the Macedonians. “For during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.” They gave in joy of knowing first that Christ has made them rich. Rich in spirit and rich in community. When we live in community, we are responsible for the well-being of others. Not obligation, or command, Paul says, but in mutual love and understanding that we are all God’s children. Fair balance is about acknowledging what we do have, what others do not have, and sharing toward equality. This is the example Paul puts before us.
Christ’s sacrifice was the truest imbalance, so that we might learn to live more balanced with one another.
Generous God. You continue to give, but we give thanks that you gave the greatest sacrifice of all. You gave your Son that our lives might be balanced within ourselves and within our community. Help us to see our neighbors and brothers and sisters in you. Help us to see our wealth and their poverty. Help us to act when this truth is revealed. In the name of the one who made himself poor for us. Amen.
Where do you see your wealth? Where do you see poverty in your neighbor? Share with a friend or in the comments.
About Mitzie…Mitzie Schafer is a Deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She has a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Florida Gulf Coast University and a Master of Art in Religion from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary with a concentration in Christian Education and Christian Spirituality. She has been writing curriculum and teaching faith formation for more than ten years. Mitzie’s faith is grounded in the belief that God is the initiator and we are the respondent. That God’s yes is always bigger than our no. That being created in the image of the Creator, makes us by our very nature, creative. And that God LOVES ALL people.
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