Tuesday, September 12, 2006

poverty and riches

This week, our text is from James, chapter 2.

It's a challenge to us--a reminder that we shouldn't welcome rich people and be less-than-welcoming to poor people.

This is work enough for the church.

Just this past week, I had a conversation with someone, who would not count herself as part of the church. And is reticent to join--mostly because it looks like church people are all perfect. (And, really, probably not that much fun to be with.)

Her description made me think of church membership as being like the "No Cavity Club" that my dentist had when I was a kid. If you could go the whole year, between check-ups, with no new cavities, he'd take your picture (with a Polaroid camera), and post it on the bulletin board. And you got a treat. (Not candy, of course...)

I think church often looks like the No Cavity Club--folks who have it together, who dress nicely, and who are probably rich.

In James, it's different.

And it also continues. "Is it not the rich who oppress you?"

More than just welcoming poor people, we are called to identify with them, and to seek out answers to poverty.

May it be so.


karen said...


evan said...

I second Karen's Amen. As a church we need to be welcoming to all. Poor, rich...it makes no difference. My family is far, far, far from rich, and way far from perfect.

Sylvia Flanagan said...

In addition, I believe it's important not to project poorness as "out there". I feel a large part of Jesus' message is that in order to walk with him, we must remember we're all poor, but in various and different ways - but always in big ways. It's an admonition against arrogance and pride, and another warning against judgment. It's getting the ok to go against the grain of society and show your faults and weaknesses because only with a vulnerable stance can you have intimate connection with God and community. If you're in the no-cavity club, we're all walled off in our viel of pseudo perfection.