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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Scarcity vs. Abundance

Photo from Unicef website:
Breaking up bricks in Bangladesh
I was reading Walter Brueggemann yesterday and read some of what he says about scarcity vs. abundance. The Israelites in the wilderness were dependent upon God for manna. When you believe in the 'story of scarcity', you hoard, keep, hide away what you have. If you believe in the 'story of abundance' on the other hand, you can afford to be generous, to give up what you have. God initiated this abundance, and it is played out in the story of Jesus. Joseph presided over seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine. People also experience times of scarcity and times of abundance.

Last week at nightchurch, two guys sat up the front breaking up bricks while the service went on. They weren't very good at it, or perhaps they were trying not to be too loud, but they were reminding us of the over 1 billion people in the world who live on $1 a day. I remember in Bangladesh, seeing people on the side of the road, usually women or children, breaking up bricks. The problem was there were no natural stones in Bangladesh, so the only way to make stones to lay bitumen for the roads was first to make bricks and then to break them.

Our society is fueled by a market ideology that encourages us to take more all the time and to fear scarcity. Sabbath, says Brueggemann is intended to be an antidote to our activity and an acknowledgement of abundance. Grace is not simply a theological thing, it is to be an action of our lives. What is your story? Is it one of scarcity or abundance?

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