There is a powerful parable often told in India about a man who inherited a rice field. In the very first year, the man irrigated the field, and it was quite fruitful. In fact, the water flowed onto his neighbor's land, and this too produced a bountiful harvest. However, the next year, forgetting that the field had itself been a gift which someone else had shared with him, the man thought to himself “why should I let the water flow through my field onto his? Water is precious, and I should keep it for myself.”
So the man decided to build a small dam. While this did prevent the water from irrigating his neighbor’s land, it ultimately proved disastrous for his crop as well, since irrigation water nourished the field only if it flowed. When the water did not move, because of the dam, it became stagnant and turned the field into a swamp, suffocating its potential and leaving the farmer with missed opportunity and doubt.
The scarcity trap that our rice farmer falls into is a trap that snares us when we least expect it. Jesus taught us over and over again that we grow and prosper only when we give away that which lulls us into a false sense of security. In Luke 21:1 – 4, Jesus compares the widow’s mite to the rich man’s gifts, demonstrating that the gifts of all are needed and used in God’s economy. Moving beyond our perceived lack of resources and sharing that which we have often results in the greatest gifts!
Our lawn and landscape beds at Union Avenue Christian Church are lush and verdant because Sam and Mary Pearson saw these as our congregation’s first impression to those traveling by on Union Boulevard and because of Mary’s gift of a green thumb and gardener’s eye for detail. The colors in our sanctuary came together not because of a contractor’s design aesthetic or a painter’s palette, but, rather, because Catherine Davis and Doug Allebach offered the congregation their gifts of interior design.
The Gretchen Brigham Gallery is filled with color and creativity 365 days a year because members of the Arts Group of Union Avenue (AGUA) are generous with their time and talents, ensuring that the arts help us to encounter the holy and question the unknown and the incomplete.
The Ivory Perry Park Concert Series continues to bring people together at ground-zero on the “Delmar Divide” because neighbors and congregations living in caring community is a value that members of our congregation are unwilling to compromise.
Over the course of the last ten years, our Urban Mission Inn (UMI) has housed more than 2,500 guests who have provided more than 50,000 hours of volunteer service in our community. Teenagers and young adults might be more “connected” than ever with what’s happening in our the world, but have they seen what it’s like to live below the poverty line? Or experienced the energy and exhaustion of inner-city living? Or felt the heartbeat of African culture beaten across the taut surface of a drum? Pulling teenagers from their typical context helps them understand that the world is larger than their daily lives would have them believe. Through our ongoing UMI experiences, which are fueled by the energy and creativity of members of our congregation, faith steps beyond the doors of the church and demands to be applied to real-world living.
Jesus taught us with his words and actions that the trajectory of human evolution is to live generously in loving community and to serve God. Participating in that is a deeply rewarding and spiritual practice that calls us to look beyond our fear of scarcity and be transformed through our stewardship of God’s generosity in our lives.
In the week ahead, you will receive a mailing from our Stewardship Ministry Team with a Covenant of Estimated Giving and a Covenant of Giving Time and Talent in support of the ministries of Union Avenue Christian Church in the year ahead. This year-end-planning, budgeting, and underwriting is essential to our ongoing ministries to serve our community both locally and globally. Please prayerful consider how you will support the ministries of Union Avenue with your time, talent, and financial resources and plan to join us Sunday, November 4, for Commitment Sunday and All Saints Sunday.