Mission and the Divine Gift of Abundance

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Walter Brueggemann in his book, Journey to the Common Good, posits that an ideology of scarcity keeps us from pursuing a common good for our neighborhoods and the world around us. A worldview where resources are limited produces a culture of of power and control as we scratch, claw and fight to maintain or obtain these resources for our own private interests. Our neighborhoods—urban or suburban, rich or poor, filled with those on the corporate ladder or those trying to find it—are gripped with fear and anxiety in this world of scarcity. This seed of fear grows self-interest and greed, choking out the pursuit of the common good of loving a neighbor and seeking the peace of the city. We fight to consume all this world has to offer. Those at the the table of goods resort to utilizing all measures to restrict access leading those who are restricted to erupt in violent protest or retreating in dejected despair.

Brueggemann states, when describing the manna the Israelites received in the desert, that the “gift of wonder bread as a miracle of abundance is a show of generosity that breaks that deathly pattern of anxiety, fear, greed, and anger, a miracle that always surprises because it is beyond our categories of expectation. It is an overwhelming, inexplicable act of generosity that breaks the grip of self-destructive anxiety concerning scarcity.”[1] Jesus demonstrated this abundance as he took a few loaves, blessed and gave thanks, broke and gave in excesses to those who were hungry. The church celebrates this abundance in the Eucharist, the “gospel of abundance [which] overrides the claim of scarcity and invites the common good.”[2]  This is a table of abundance. A sacrament which breaks the ideology of scarcity, stopping the cycle of fear and anxiety along with its side effects of power and control.  

Mission is a call into the abundance of the divine. We are invited into a relationship of abundance—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—through the extravagant generosity in the Father's gift of the Son and the pouring out of the Spirit. As the church is sent, we are sent confronting the worldview of scarcity and offering an alternative way, a new kingdom based on abundance. In this kingdom we are free from the need to exercise power and control as our fear and anxiety are consumed by the abundant love of Father, Son and Spirit. We are free to love our neighbor and pursue the peace of the city. We are generous with our resources, understanding that in our reality one does not equal one but three and meager offerings of loaves and fish can feed multitudes. A worldview of abundance propels us to willingly partner with other local churches, agencies, departments and denominations resisting the temptation of “ours” and “theirs” or “us” and “them” but rather demonstrating a posture of generosity in all we have for the benefit of our neighbors and cities. We offer the invitation of Jesus to those who are weary and burdened from the trap of living with the fear of scarcity and call them to the rest and peace of divine abundance.

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