Thursday, 5 August 2010
The Giving Pledge
In the morning of Wednesday 4th August I sat down to look at the readings for the Sunday 8th August as I am preaching on that day. I read the bible passage out to the hearing of my wife and when I finished reading, we both agreed it’s a difficult text to preach on. Methodist Church discourages preachers from choosing to preach on themes other than what the Lectionary has provided. This means I will have to stick with the so-called difficult text. The text in question is Luke 12:32-40. “Do not be afraid, little flock; your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom”. This little word fear has done a lot of havoc to humanity. Therefore, the admonishing from Jesus to his disciples and all of us that we should not be afraid is a welcoming one. But the fear factor isn’t why I felt the text is difficult. The reasons why I said the text is difficult is the two commands found in the text. Command 1- (v33) Sell all your belongings and give the money to the poor. Command 2- (v35) Be ready for whatever comes, dress for action and with your lamps lit. For the purpose of this article I will only discuss the command 1. In the 21st Century property grabbing society how best can I relay this text to the congregation that they should sell their possessions and give to the poor? I usually relate my sermon with contemporarily issues so while reflecting on this, there was breaking news which I thought I should consider. The breaking news was that - Thirty-four U.S. billionaires have pledged to give away at least 50 per cent of their wealth to charity as part of a campaign by investor Warren Buffett and Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Among the billionaires joining the campaign are New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, entertainment executive Barry Diller, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens, media mogul Ted Turner, banker David Rockefeller and investor Ronald Perelman. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1300336/The-greatest-charity-giveaway-history- Interestingly, each individual giver has to write a letter of pledge stating why they wish to give such fortune to the charity. It’s worth checking www.givingpledge.org. “The giving pledge is an effort to invite the wealthiest individuals and families in America to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropy”. Following therefore, from Luke’s gospel (Luke 12:33-34), 33Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. There is no much difference between selling your possessions and giving to the poor, and giving part of your wealth to the poor. My question therefore is would those billionaires giving the majority of their wealth to the poor means they have provided for themselves purses that won’t wear out, and have saved their riches in heaven? They have done almost exactly what Jesus requested haven’t they? Would the billionaires’ gesture therefore mean that they would be in good books of Christ? Moving on- what does Jesus mean by sell your possessions and give to the poor? What! That I can’t even own this laptop computer to write this blog? Still pondering over the command for the sermon on Sunday.