Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost                                               
Proper 8 - Year B
2 Corinthians 8:7-15

Paul writes the Corinthian congregation about their involvement with the wider church - in particular the current fundraising project which the outlying churches have undertaken to support the mother Church in Jerusalem. 

"For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have."

If-then statements are meant to show how things are tied together.  If you have snow tires then you'll make it to the top of the snowy hill.  If you have a full tank of gas then you will get to Swift Current without gazing nervously at the gas gauge.  If you have the right qualifications then your job application will be received and reviewed.  If-then statements also serve to to provoke self-reflection.  Do you, in fact, have snow tires?  Did you tank up in Saskatoon?  Did you pass your Statistics course at University?  No?  Tough darts then.

Petrol, snow tires and school transcripts are easily quantified.  You have them or you don't.  You can tick the box or not.  Eagerness (and the Greek word here can be translated as zeal, readiness, energy, inclination) is less concrete but completely essential to the task. What Paul seems to be saying here is that it's not just a matter of getting the Quartermaster to do an inventory of what concrete resources
you have at hand but of asking yourself (or your community or your committee)  whether or not you (or they) are interested in doing anything at all.  Do you have that essential ingredient - the presence of which will forgive any number of shortages in concrete resources - which is the good will, the energy, the decision, the inclination and the openness of heart necessary to plug you in to the world around you and to seek after God’s Kingdom?  Yes?  No?

Without mentioning the specific teachings of Jesus anywhere in his Epistles, Paul has all the parables on his side.  The parables are chock full of under-equipped and under-resourced individuals who nonetheless have the following quality:  When they are invited to the banquet they say yes.  When they encounter the treasure in a field they will do what is necessary to make sure it becomes theirs.  They may have nothing but their hunger for righteousness, their inclination towards others, their desire to find meaning in their lives, their willingness to build community and to treasure those bonds with others.  But it's there, that spark.  They can identify it.  They can set their priorities by it.   And if, one day, that energy began to flag then they would themselves know it before anyone took them to task.

“Yes - you're right - I've been a little off recently.”

Do you have what it takes to move forward when energy, conviction and and determination are more important than concrete resources?   If not then what are you going to do about that?  How can we help?