This is a reposting from my trip to Guatemala with Compassion Bloggers. I woke up with this sermon on my mind this morning – trying to wrestle it into rhyme and melody today. You will always have the poor…the opportunity…the gift of giving.
In a sanctuary turned classroom and gymnasium, over a bowl of chicken and rice, I leaned across the table and shouted over the music of children playing.
“A poll a few years back found that 80% of American pastors have never spoken on the subject of poverty. With their help,” I said, “we could serve so many more children.”
Pastor Manuel nodded, eyebrows raised. A balloon whizzed overhead cheered on by children laughing.
“If you could say anything to America’s pastors what would you say?” I asked.
He dropped his fork and fanned out three fingers, grabbing the first.
“First,” he said, “Jesus said we would always have the poor so that we would always have the opportunity to be generous, to be a blessing.”
He grabbed the first and second fingers together and leaned in closer.
“Second, the Bible teaches that everything we have is a gift from God. We are to be generous givers like our Father.” He smiled and looked up past the ceiling in gratitude.
“Third, when the poor receive gifts they will thank God and they will give to others. It is a cycle that will never end.”
It will never end.
I often think this. Boarding a plane to yet another country. Writing yet another blog post. Preaching at yet another church. Hearing my children speak yet another bedtime prayer to Heaven for children who don’t have beds and macaroni and cheese and clean water. I think This will never end.
And it feels like a sentence.
But not today.
It was an opportunity. I hope it always is to me.
An opportunity to receive from the Giver, give to the poor, and see the gift given again. And again.
An opportunity to be blessed to be a blessing.
Once my heart and belly were full, I pushed away from the lunch table and dangled kids by their feet and tickled their ribs…
…savored their cackling and songs and squeezes and chubby hands scribbling butterflies in crayon.
Thankful. Freed from the sentence of unending poverty into the opportunity of it.
Right now you have the opportunity to sponsor a child and be like the Giver. Please seize it.
And if you’re a pastor please tell your congregation what the bible says about poverty. Please. There’s so much more we could do together. We need your voice.