A “Stingy Planter” vs. A “Lavish Planter”

Thanksgiving 2011

One of the texts for the lectionary for Thanksgiving this year is from 2 Corinthians 96-15.  One of the key verses is the inspiration at the top of the very page you’re reading.

12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.

This is not the easiest verse to understand, the context is giving of ourselves unselfishly. Earlier in 2nd Corinthians Paul says,

6-7 Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.  [Thanksgiving weekend is the biggest fund raising time of the year, we see the suffering around us and for the most part understand that we are very fortunate.  And most of us have not spent our Christmas money. Yet.]

8-11 God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it,

He throws caution to the winds,
giving to the needy in reckless abandon.
His right-living, right-giving ways
never run out, never wear out.

This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.

The irony of talking about these verses at this time is almost more than I can bear…to talk about the need to be generous and caring for the marginalized and stigmatized, in a commonwealth that was founded on Quaker principles of compassion and justice, when our legislators clap and heartily endorse the cuts to these people (as they did in a session last week, week of Halloween..scary!) on hearing the savings our Secretary of Public Welfare has cut from his own budget, $400,000,000 off the top of the Department of Public Welfare budget, and as much as $100,000,000-$200,000,000 in take backs and further reduction of funding in the Office of Developmental Programs for persons with intellectual disabilities. The result of these actions by our Secretary of Public Welfare Gary Alexander, was to immediately drop 18,000 children out of the system, eliminate adultBasic, a health care plan for people in the low income brackets, at the same time the census data shows we in Pennsylvania have the poorest city in the United States, Reading… and our legislators are clapping over this?

We however as a faith based agency have a different narrative..Paul was in Macedonia (North of Corinth) when generosity broke out, he writes in 2 Corinthians 81-4:

The Offering
1-4 Now, friends, I want to report on the surprising and generous ways in which God is working in the churches in Macedonia province. Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts. I was there and saw it for myself. They gave offerings of whatever they could — far more than they could afford! —pleading for the privilege of helping out in the relief of poor Christians.

Jan and I worshiped at the Valley View Presbyterian Church last Sunday in Pittsburgh, a church wealthy in love and caring, not so much material wealth, however when the offering plate came around it was heaping full. This is the kind of giving Paul was talking about.  So when Paul wrote, “For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God” he was talking about how to respond to each other in tough times.

We do have a lot to be thankful for today, especially at Peaceful Living.  I believe God has totally blessed us and that means we need to be totally generous in our outlook and sharing our time, resources, and love for each other, even if the atmosphere is saturated with self interest, egotism, posturing and being stingy to people who are marginalized.  Paul’s approach in 2 Corinthians of being a “lavish planter” not only blesses us all, but it blesses God as well.  Will you be lavish in your approach to others?

The congregations was singing a song at the Valley View Presbyterian Church,  last Sunday which relates directly to a different narrative:

 

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