Sharing with Others by Rev. June Fothergill
July 17, 2016
Luke 12: 13-21; Acts 2: 43-47; 4:32-35 ( Mark 8:35)
Eric Law in his book called Holy Currencies: 6 Blessings for Sustainable Ministries tells the story of dinner at his home growing up. “ When I was a child my family always had guest for dinner. On any given day, there might be 12 10 15 people at the dinner table. Dinner was a time of joyful sharing gof food and stories. I thought we were quite wealthy , feeding so many people every night. Only when I was older , while talking to my mother about the good old days did I find out that we were not rich at all . My mother told me that some days when only had three dollars to feed 15 people. How could that be? I did not remember a day when there was not enough food.” Eric learned that his mom was a very savy shopper and cook, but he thinks it is more than that,
“ Not only was everyone around the table filled every night; there were always leftovers. I believe the way we dealt with the leftovers at the dinner table is indicative of how this miracle of doing ‘more with less” was accomplished.
Toward the end of dinner there was always something left on a place in the middle of the table, Everyone would be staring at it, especially when it was a piece of meat… But no one would make a move to take it. Then someone would say, “ Why don’t you take it Grandma? You are the oldest.”
But my grandma would say, “ NO I’ve been eating this stuff all my life. Give it it the little eone. He’s the youngest and needs the nourishment to grow up to be big and strong.” Now all eyes were on mem, who was the youngest. But I who also learned this ritual would say, “ No not me. I am completely full because I have the smallest stomach. Give it to my older brother. He has an examination at school tomorrow, He needs it so he can do well.” … And so it went , each person would find an excuse not to take the leftover piece of food and instead offered it to each other, and “affirmed each other’s worthiness in the family. AS a result the leftover would remain left over and be transformed into a new dish the next day.” ( p. 14-15 Eric Law, Holy Currencies, Chalice Press, St Louis, 2013)
The lesson Eric learned from these dinner table experiences was a spirituality that assumes that these is enough and therefore it is okay to have less than the other. By insisting on having less than the other… we kept the blessing flowing in the form of the affirmation of each other’s worth.” Sharing with others opens us to this spirituality of abundance Jesus lived and taught.
Sharing with others is something many of us learned in kindergarten or before- to share our toys with the other children. I was the oldest daughter and I remember when I was about 13, I got to fix up my own bedroom. It was exciting to get a new bed, dresser, bedspread, etc. I remember lying there at night, happy in my new room but also, I could hear my two sisters talking and laughing in the next door room that they shared. I also felt a little lonely. The new room felt better when I filled it with friends for a slumber party- even though we didn’t slumber much at all.
Trusting God’s abundance and being willing to share with others opens up possibilities that we wouldn’t otherwise see or experience.
1. We discover that we can do more with less. Wednesday meals an example. We have basically the same people but are feeding more people. We have been amazed at how there is always enough-plus just like the loaves and fishes. That is the miracle of sharing with others. Sharing begets sharing and that flow means there is enough for everyone.
I remember one time I started to calculate how much money I gave to the church over the years. I began to day dream about what I could have done with that money. Then, I realized that in reality I had never missed it. And I remembered that because of it, I had been part of ministry for Christ in so many wonderful ways from the loving community of the local church to endeavours for peace and justice all around the world. Having a little less myself had allowed me to be part of something so much bigger and more exciting than just me!
2. Trusting God’s abundance and being willing to share with others also means relationships become a higher priority. You notice in the story Jesus told of the farmer with his new barns that he is all alone. He doesn’t seem to have relationships in his life. He used his surplus just for himself. What a difference it might have made if he had chosen to share his surplus with others. His life would have been so much richer, no matter how long or short it was.
The idea of sharing is that everyone has a part to play. We look at people not for what they can give to us, but for what we give and receive from each other. We don’t have to judge people or myself by how much we have. Instead we enjoy sharing with each other
Our Yard Sale is an example of this. Of course, we wanted to have the project make income for our congregation but it also gave some of us opportunities to get to know each other better, to share our various gifts of time and skills and treasure. And also to build relationships with people outside our church . Such events allow relationships to develop and resources to flow. We may have less stuff, when we clean out our closets but we have much more in gifts of friendship
3. Finally, when we trust in abundance, we gain the courage to be generous. The Native American tribes in the NW have a tradition called Potlach. On a special occasion a family would give away most of their wealth to their neighbors in celebration. They could do this because they knew that on another day, their neighbors would also give away their stuff and they would receive. There was a flowing of giving and receiving that sustained the community. When I give away so that I have less, I discover many things- that I can live with less , it is joyous to share, and together we can do amazing things.
This is what Acts tells us the early church did. In response to the good news that Jesus had died for them and had be raised to new life- they brought their wealth to the leadership to be used so that everyone’s needs were met. In a way our nation has been built upon a similar idea. The people who started our communities like Springfield agreed at some point to share their resources through taxes so that they could build schools and sewer systems and roads and bridges that benefited everyone. This is the infrastructure of our economy and community life for which all of us contribute to in various ways. We as individuals have a little less so that the whole community can benefit.
To share with others, then invites us to a spirituality of abundance, a spirituality Jesus lived and taught. It is a spirituality that trusts that when I share with others, when I give so that I have less, that creates a flow of resources , of life . Sharing with others continues the flow of abundance.