Saturday, January 05, 2008
I just finished reading an older child's tale by Madeleine L'Engle, A Wind In The Door. As part of the story she talks about the enemy being the one who "un names". Reading in scripture in the book of Exodus, God tells Moses that he knows him by name, knows who he is the stuff of which he is made. In order to be true to that for which we were created and called, we need to know the "name" by which God calls us. My friend Suzanne Trenney has struggled with her "name" and is finally realizing that she is indeed called to create art for the glory of God. She has a gift and that gift is a blessing with which she is to practice, study to show herself approved by the on going development of her skill and therefore God bless others. Suzanne's work is pictured here. Suzanne Writes:
The piece behind the leaded glass is entitled, "Empty plate, empty bowl, full wallets" and has a second title, "The Great Omission". In it, a relatively well off couple passes the sparsely filled offering plate. Behind them is a stained glass window with individuals who are potential saints(an elderly woman, a troubled teenage young man, a Muslim woman and a starving African child holding an empty bowl) who might turn to Christ if the parishioners truly gave proportionally. Also pictured is a crutch and shackles both of which can be removed by God.
I drew this around two years ago when I was new to Ascension and had not fully left my former church and was also helping at a church plant. I was really struggling with where to give my offerings. My former church (which was really huge) was able to give over a million dollars annually to missions. The church plant seemed to need the money the most. But I was being fed at Ascension. Although I was disappointed with the level of giving at Ascension after attending my first annual budget meeting as well as the amount of the church's budget which directly went towards fulfilling the Great Commission, God told me that my tithes were to go to Ascension as I had, by that time, begun to consider it my church home. This drawing was made during this period of frustration.
Later, I attended a class at Trinity called "Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes" which was taught by Ken Bailey. He told us about how he was once teaching about the parable of the servants who were entrusted with money while their master was away and were later rewarded based on their faithfulness. He discussed how they were rewarded based on their faithfulness-not productivity, but that in each case, faithfulness did lead to an increase. He was asked by a woman about a situation that didn't seem to be addressed in the parable where a servant was faithful but what was entrusted did not increase. Though he did not have a good answer for her at the time, he continued thinking about it and realized that Jesus did not include that scenario because it doesn't exist! We do not possess the yardstick to measure productivity. Just as love never fails, Ken Bailey said that he believes that faithfulness never fails. Rather than attempting to measure the productivity or kingdom value of a church, or its members, I need to be faithful with what I have been given and to that which I have been called. We do, however, need to prompt and encourage one another to faithfulness. We have been blessed in order to be a blessing.