October 16, 2018
Using language is such a delicate thing. When I preach, I spend a good amount of time saying things in different ways. Essentially, I know that how I craft my words will change the meaning and sometimes how it lands upon one’s ear. Sometimes, I let poetry take over too much, and other times, I just let the Spirit do her work and fill up the gaps for our common good.
For over a year, Plymouth Church has been hearing the word “abundance” used specifically in our visioning and in who we strive to be. Our hope is that we move from a place of scarcity, or a church that assumes that all we have is all we’ll ever have. I want to do a bit of work to further define what I mean by abundance, so we might find ourselves on the same page, if not in the same chapter of a good book.
In the context of the church, abundance is a state of being. It is an invitation to believe that even one’s personal deficits can be beneficial and life-giving. For instance, a person experiencing poverty can live an abundant life, particularly and especially if they find all their needs met, and believe they have the skillset and faith to thrive. This is the way of Jesus, the way of trusting in the God of providence.
Therefore, abundance is not a statement of resources. More rightly, abundance is a state of gratitude, a consciousness produced by a choice to believe that God is gracious. Abundance is not a pronouncement detached from reality. It isn’t saying, “I have $100. I’ll go buy a yacht.” That’s irresponsible foolishness. Abundance, instead, is a statement of great faith. Abundance says that it will do great things with whatever amount it has and knowing that if our ministry is compelling, deeply spiritual and a need arises, so will the resource. The path isn’t always made prior to our walking.
The Apostle Paul agrees with this definition of abundance. In his letter to the church of Philippi, Paul shared:
“…I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need.”
As a church, when we welcome abundant thinking, we invite innovative ministry, agility and using our resources well. In the end, we are also making peace, resisting an atmosphere where we do not live into the secret of being and having enough. Plymouth, we are enough. Let us claim God’s abundance together. —Rev. Dr. Kelle Brown