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It Will Be Enough…


It is budget planning time here amidst the corn and tomato fields. Unfortunately, this year that means planning to have less income than we’ve had in the past. The trends have been there for a couple years. And there’s plenty of blame to go around: a weak and stubbornly un-recovering economy; internal discord about sexuality and denominational policy; a wider culture in which formal/communal expressions of faith are fading in favor of an individualism (both in secular and sacred matters) that recognizes little loyalty beyond itself; and the church’s own (and decades long) inability to get beyond its own walls and deal with the reality that the Church was never meant to be a club whose sole distinguishing factor was that it closed every meeting with the Lord’s Prayer.

OK. Got that off my chest.

On the one hand, it makes me sigh deeply. We (both the lay folks and their pastor in this place) have been working faithfully at being what God has called us to be. No doubt about that. But we’ve made our mistakes along the way, and in the current environment there seems to be little margin for error. The result is that we must be planning do ministry with fewer dollars and fewer folks. Guess I know which direction my salary is headed for 2013.

But on the other hand…

How many dollars does it take to share with your sick neighbor that big lasagna you just made…just to let them know that you care about them getting better? How big a savings account do you need to hold your tongue when the political debates get nasty and personal and stupid…or to employ that same tongue with a word of encouragement rather than condemnation? How many other people does it take for you to decide that getting up on Sunday morning and going to worship is the right thing to do…that God deserves your praise, and that you need to be fed by that holy Word and precious Meal in order to make it through all the decisions and distractions of the week ahead? How big a budget do you need in order to read a Bible story to your child or even to a gathering of the community’s children in something like a Sunday school?

The point is this: Most…nearly all…of what we do as church doesn’t require massive amounts of money or people. Most of what we do requires a simple, thankful response to the grace of God that we are willing to let overflow into the daily, ordinary, mundane faithfulness that cares for the world and all its inhabitants…or at least those inhabitants closest to us. God will take it from there…redeeming what we screw up and using it all (by the power of the Spirit) to get done what needs done.

Yeah…I know. It’s not fancy or glitzy. Our worship videos probably won’t be going viral. The TV cameras won’t likely be camped outside the front door. And there will still be a frustratingly large amount of arrogance and nastiness in the neighborhood. But where we let God work through what we have to offer, we will be treated to glimpses of the Kingdom itself…a holy reign that cannot be bought with our big budgets, but that has already been purchased by the faithfulness of Christ.

Just remember. The crucifixion didn’t much look like a success either. But after every Friday comes a Sunday. God can and will use us and whatever gifts we have to offer no matter how big or small. We may well wonder…but in the end, it will be enough.


One Comment leave one →
  1. Mary Beth Smith-Gunn permalink
    17September2012 14:02

    Your eloquence and gospel-centered confidence is an inspiration and a reminder to all of us in the trenches of real ministry. Thank you for your collegiality, humility and tangible hope. God’s blessings!
    Mary Beth Smith-Gunn

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