I want to open today’s post as all good Christians should, with a confession. I am, once again, breaking one of my rules. When I started this blog the idea was to keep it separate from my local church. I wanted this blog to be more about my own thoughts and experiences than about those of my church. After all, no church needs it’s pastor interpreting their community’s ups and downs in a public setting. Therefore, simply put, this is not a church blog but a Pastor’s blog. However, something happened on Sunday so kingdom shattering and profound I couldn’t help but share it with the broader world wide web.
One of our neighbor churches is trying to purchase a property adjacent to their building. They have been in negotiations with the property’s under water owner for the last year. Last week they were informed the city had foreclosed on the property due to back taxes and are auctioning it off this very week. We are scrambling to get the funds together to buy it, which is a magnificent chore considering we have no idea how much money we need.
At the end of my Trinity Sunday sermon I closed by sharing with my congregation that the unity of God implies the unity of the church. I then explained the situation of our sister church and led our congregation in prayer over the property. I ended the prayer with a brief note that, “If anybody wants to financially contribute let me know.”
We have a wonderful saint of a woman who attends our church periodically. I only know snippets of her story but I know life has dealt her some severe blows, financial and otherwise. But they are the kinds of blows that sanctified her and she worships the kind of God who walks with us through all seasons.
After church, while people were milling about, she came up and told me she had left a $1 bill on the altar, noting, “It’s all I have on me right now but you make sure they get that property.”
Somehow the dollar got to my treasurer who later asked me, “What do I do with this?”
I totally understood the question. We could create an account line for $1 but that seems like a lot of hassle. Being just one dollar, I could have also pocketed it and taken it to the Pastor of their church. That still seemed risky, even for a dollar. So I muttered, “I don’t know what to do with it, but I tell you what, I love this dollar bill.”
At that moment the magnanimity of it dawned. Nobody else had yet given me anything. Our board would later start a conversation about how to help. I myself hadn’t considered giving any of my person funds, not for any selfish reason but because the amount I could give wouldn’t sway the auction in any way. We needed tens of thousands of dollars, not the measly $200 I could come up out of my checkbook.
None of that logic had occurred to the wonderful widow. She had just caught a vision beyond herself and knew she wanted to be a part of it. Her life with Jesus had not taught her to think practically but spiritually. She knew the value of a dollar because she had never had too many of them throughout her life.
Me, on the other hand, well as I type I am picking crumbs out of my teeth from my $8 breakfast this morning. I swiped my debit card without thinking twice and because it was a church meeting, my congregation will reimburse me for it. Yesterday I threw a dollar in a machine at the mall to give my kids a fun ride. Last week I bought a $20 video game and an $8 book. I regularly spend money on anything from entertainment to food. Have I forgotten the value of a dollar?
This was all she had and our Bible, nay our Jesus, tells us that it is worth many thousands of dollars, worth so much more than the coffee and breakfast and video games that I purchase regularly.
I said to my treasurer, “You know, we should just treat it like we would any larger donation. Go ahead and make the Quick books account and when we write the check for however much we are going to give we will make sure it is +1.” My treasurer had all ready reached the same conclusion, having been dealt similar blows in the last year.
“It is a big gift,” he said. “We should definitely treat it like one.”
That’s what we did. We treated it like any other gift because she, out of her poverty, gave all she had.
Still, I wish I had the dollar. I would carry it with me wherever I go and take it out as a prop for sermons on giving. Another part of me wanted to frame it and put it in the sanctuary. If I had had a dollar bill on me, I would have traded it out and done so.
Instead I took the picture posted below. My lousy phone has a really lousy camera so the picture is blurry. But I love how blurry it is. It isn’t fitting that a picture of that dollar bill should be like any other picture. After all that dollar isn’t like any other dollar.
And of course by the end of the day I was reviewing my own financials to figure out how much I wanted to contribute. Generosity is contagious like that.