The alert among you may have noticed the absence of any bloggerel from me yesterday. It was not intentional but simply a lack of time and space in which to reflect, write and post something. I hope that you, dearest bloggist, will forgive me.
All this week people are doing bizarre and silly things to raise funds for BBC’s Children in Need appeal. I saw a larger-than-life-sized Pudsey Bear walking through Colchester earlier today with acolytes sporting teddy bear ears and brandishing collecting buckets. Other people will have sat in baths of beans, kept silent, bungee jumped and done other silly things to raise money.
On the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Radio 2 they are auctioning off some incredible events this week. People are bidding vast sums of money to win these events: £140,000 was paid today for four people to have a round of golf (admittedly a luxury package you could not buy normally). The money goes to a very good cause and the aspects of the package have been donated by kind and generous individuals and companies. They are also holding a raffle disguised as a competition to enable ‘normal’ people to participate in one of these packages for just over £1. I am not critical of the generosity, the fundraising or the cause.
But there’s something about it that is grating with me. It is the amount of money that is being flaunted on national radio for these different events and packages. The amounts being bid are FAR beyond the reach of the vast majority of people in this country. Only a very rich minority of people are able to bid for them, yet the rest of us are obliged to listen (or change channel). And it is the extravagant luxury of the packages and events that are being offered when many people have to choose between heating and eating. People who are struggling to find the money to buy food this week are listening to this vast wealth being bid for frivolous pursuits. Those who have lost their jobs and are worried about whether they can meet the mortgage payments or rent are listening to people bidding the value of their house for a game of golf.
It has highlighted for me the inequality that is inherent in our society and in the world. Jesus said that we will always have the poor with us, when he was defending the extravagant act of worship of the woman (Mary) pouring expensive perfume on his feet and wiping them with her hair. Her extravagance was criticised under the pretext of being able to sell the perfume and give the money to the poor, but was (in my view) more motivated by the lack of comprehension and shallowness of devotion of the onlookers. Jesus was not endorsing extravagance per se, but acknowledging the depth of emotion and devotion that had motivated this act of adoration. And he was most certainly not suggesting that we flaunt wealth in the face of those who are poor.
Wealth is relative. So is poverty. Compared to some of the people who have bid successfully for these events I am relatively poor. But compared to many people in this country and most people in this world I am relatively rich. And because I am a relative (by adoption) of Jesus I need to make sure that I use that relative wealth in the way that he would, which is a big challenge! Jesus encouraged generosity in his people, but he also said we should do it in secret, not ostentatiously on national radio.
(And if I am honest I probably need to ask him to help me with the jealousy I feel of those who have been able to bid such large amounts of money to this charitable cause to buy experiences to give them pleasure and entertainment).
Be blessed, be a blessing.
The poorly paid local pastor grew watermelons to suppliment his meager income. He was doing pretty well, but he was disturbed by some local lads who would sneak into his watermelon patch at night and eat his watermelons. After some careful thought, he came up with a clever idea that he thought would scare the lads away for sure.
He made up a sign and posted it in the field. The next night, the lads showed up and they saw the sign which read, “Warning! One of the watermelons in this field has been injected with cyanide.”
When the pastor returned the next morning, he surveyed the field. He noticed that no watermelons were missing, but at the bottom of his sign were the words: “Now there are two!”