Last Sunday y’all gathered round the table that has become familiar. And as you sat down (among friends & family) — you prayed. I wasn’t there but am so grateful that Gene facilitated the space & conversation while I was away.
Following prayer came check-in, the time to discuss how our faith and understanding of scripture influences and shapes how we think about, how we use & how we spend money. I think y’all checked-in and went back to the Deuteronomy 15:1-11 text again in checking in and discussing, this rich (no pun intended?) and challenging text/topic: faith & finances!
The conversation engaged questions — like, did the forgiveness of debts actually ever happen?; was (is?) God’s desire for each person to have the same exact amount of money?; what was the impact on the entire community when this happened (if this happened)? Or questions considering did this practice influence essential interest rates, or if someone would allow loaning, or would people borrow all they could — sort of an early credit card or shopping spree if the forgiveness was near? Some of the larger questions might be essentially the question that we are asking — if the Israelites (if we) took God’s invitation/plan as specified in Deuteronomy 15 seriously, how did it shape all of how they live? Did it encourage people to work at trying to take advantage of the system? Did it encourage people consider financial blessing a blessing that might be fleeting, thus inviting them to trust always and only in God (and not a nest egg, pension, 401K, investment portfolio, property investments)?
These are great questions. And there were & there are more. Questions of specifics. Questions as to the details…the how to. And it seems like there was the very real concern about people taking advantage of us, of the generosity of others. (Don’t we just hate that? Someone taking advantage? It doesn’t feel good, makes us feel foolish!) But to throw something out there for us to wrestle with….what does grace teach us? (We might not like the teaching?) Or what would it really look like & feel like to live knowing (KNOWING) God is always the giver, that the blessings we have (financial and otherwise!) we did not earn and we do not deserve (no matter how smart, wise, faithful, kind…..we are) — that all we have is God’s and God but allows us to hold these blessings & to steward them in a way that gives God all glory and honor and praise? What would that feel like for us? I wonder if this is part of what God was getting at, how God was trying help guide God’s people to create a community where God’s provision is the center?
Now….I could go on….but I’m not too sure if the homework was named yet….SO — I’m going to mention it here & realize we might need a second week with it….anyway — here it is:
- Please think about what scripture (verses &/or passages) & life experiences &/or people — shape our understanding of finances. Come ready to share these at the table of course!
In Christ ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater