It was Earth Sunday at my Church this Sunday, and they had their Young Adult Volunteer give the sermon.
Here is a bit of it. (or you can see the rest on my blog)
Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” 2 Cor. 8:13-15
But instead, the idea of “enough” kept coming up. So I talked about stuff. How it makes me uncomfortable. How I don’t have a lot, how stuff weighs you down, holds you back, makes you feel like you deserve something that has been a gift all along. I have enough, so why should I have more when it is just heavier to carry. Why should I have more when there are so many with so little? Why should I take up more space, use more, buy more, eat more, throw away more? So I have made myself smaller, my presence smaller, my impact smaller, and I have viewed my transient life as a life of simplicity. An eco-minded response to the vapid consumerism attributed to my generation, my culture. Because that sounds much better than what it really is.
A Fear. A fear of settling. A fear of committing to a place and a people. A fear of caring for others, and yet not having enough for myself.
In the Corinthians text, it says “the goal is equality.” It makes an allusion to the Manna falling to the ground for the Israelites who wandered in the desert. “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” Everyone had the same. We, here and now, are not there yet.
We know this with every stroke of injustice we sense. I know this because people are still hungry. In the richest, most extravagant country in the world, where we throw away 40% of our food, people are still hungry, and we try to do something about it. Here at our church, we have a food pantry that provides food on the weekends. At WLP, we provide breakfast and lunch to any woman who walks in the door. In MA, there are hundreds of food pantries, meals programs, and people just walking around handing out sandwiches. And yet, we know that they are still hungry.
The goal is equality. Everyone at the same level, at the same table. And we are not there yet.
We know this because the people picking our tomatoes off the vines aren’t given a livable wage. Can’t afford the very food they harvest.
We know this because 14% of Americans don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
We know this because most people receiving SNAP benefits use them up by the third week of the month, and don’t have any extra money for food.
We know this because we drain our water onto fields of food destined for feedlots.
We know this because patents on life have become more valuable than lives.
We know this because a fresh vegetable, locally grown has become a privilege.
We know the problems. So we problem solve.
We give more, what we can scrape together from the back of our cupboard. We grow gardens. And we give more. We glean, we protest, we advocate and give and give and give.
But are we also giving away pieces of our hearts? Not just practically combating an injustice, but compassionately engaging with a place and a people. Truly hearing the voices of the forgotten oppressed, ignored, and hungry, and possessing a willingness to participate in the act of giving our hearts. God’s heart.
Because when you are giving out of your plenty and into someone’s lacking you know them, you love them, and at some point those who were lacking now have plenty to give to you.
We know we will not be depleted. We know there is enough. So we give.
The goal is equality.
We are not there yet, but in Christ we are. At the communion table we will soon participate in, we have a beautiful glimpse of it. We are all welcome to the meal together, we are all sitting next to each other, and we are all full.
The goal is equality. Oh what a beautiful day when this is true.