Thursday, October 16, 2008

Running on Empty

Just a few weeks ago the Nashville area ran out of gas.

There was lots of talk about whether there really was an interruption of supply due to the hurricanes south of us, or if there was just rumors that were flying. Rumors that there wasn’t going to be enough, so that everyone took every car and every container to the gas station on the same day to hedge their bets. Whichever reason was correct (probably a combination of both) the results were the same. Long lines, frayed nerves, curtailed travel plans, and some panic.

When that scarcity mentality grabs a hold of us, there is no telling what we might do. We had some police officers stationed at gas stations by me. I didn’t see anyone act up. In fact, when a young driver ran out of gas while waiting on line, some of the other drivers got out and were helping him inch his car up in the line until he got his turn at the pump.

Now all we hear about is the economy, stocks in the toilet, banks going under or getting bought out, Congress bailing out financial institutions. It’s not hard to get alarmed, to be frightened, to pull our heads into our shell and say, “it’s time for me to worry about me and mine.”

That’s not what the church does. We follow that guiding principle that when things get tough, you stick closer together. There is a whole world that is being rocked by the unstable nature of the financial realities. And there are more opportunities for ministry now than ever. There are more reasons for United Methodists to pull together, to let our strength and our numbers empower our ministry, than in any time in recent memory. The challenges are great, but the potential for life changing ministry is even greater.

I think of Jesus on that hillside along the Sea of Galilee. The crowd has pressed in on him, and the disciples want Jesus to send the crowd away because they don’t have any food to share. Scarcity mentality has set in big time. One boy has offered up what he has: some loaves and a few fish. In Jesus’ hands, it is an abundance.

So, lets use our resources wisely, but lets see clearly our abundance and boldly share it. We are not running on empty, not in regard to compassion, or hunger for justice, or enthusiasm for evangelism, or concern for the poor. Let generosity – extravagant generosity – still be the rule that claims us. Let us put what we have into Jesus hands and let Jesus show us the abundance!

--Rev. Dr. Ken Sloane, Communications Ministry Group, United Methodist Communications

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