August 22-28, 2005
Not guilt. Not shame. Gratitude!
Not long ago at the state Museum of Pennsylvania, the father in the soiled baseball jacket brought his son to the doorway leading to a special fun exhibit for kids. The boy excitedly craned his neck to see the colorful play stations and activity centers inside.
Now the state museum is an enormous and wonderful place, filled with all sorts of scientific, cultural and artistic treasures. And as many Pennsylvanians know, it's a real bargain. Admission is free, except for certain special exhibits, such as the one for children that day.
"That will be $2 per person," the clerk at the entrance said.
You could see the father trying to suppress the look of pain that washed across his face. He pursed his lips and reached for his son's hand. "Hey, why don't we go look at the dinosaur exhibit!"
Witnessing this drama unfold as I approached with my own children, I was astonished to realize that the father just didn't have the $4. For most of us, $4 is pocketchange -- the price of a Big Mac combo meal, a large Frappachino at Starbucks, or a gallon and a half of gas. For this father, it might as well have been the national debt.
Are you rich? When you ponder that question, you probably do what I do -- think of friends and family who are better off and say, "Who, me? I'm not rich." But when you look from the other end of the telescope, at those who have less, a different picture emerges.
That's why a visit to the Global Rich List, one of this week's new resources, is so enlightening. Key in your annual earnings and you'll find out just how rich you are in comparison to everyone else on the planet. Go ahead! Give it a try. Pray about the results.
The idea is not to make you feel guilty over what you have, or ashamed that despite a decent income you are struggling to make ends meet (as are most people), but grateful for whatever God has given you. Gratitude is a foundation of good stewardship. And most of us have a lot to be grateful for. If you have a safe and clean place to live, sufficient food in the fridge, and a cash flow that covers your bills and leaves you some money for entertainment, you have a lot, indeed.
Some parents can't afford $4 to take their children to a museum exhibit.
-Rob Blezard, editor and webmaster
P.S.: By the way, things turned out OK that day for the father in the soiled baseball jacket. One of the parents in line stepped forward and bought tickets for him and his son.
New This Week:
Having trouble keeping up with the Joneses? The Global Rich List may be able to provide you with some comfort. On this site, you can tell how you keep up with the Joneses worldwide. Just key in your annual earnings (make sure it's expressed in dollars) and viola! Use it as a congregational conversation starter! Click here for Global Rich List.
drives a program forward
Wow! Here's a free resource you -- and your congrergation -- can really sink your teeth into! It's a 72-page PDF report outlining the challenges facing the our world's environment today, how our Christian faith calls us to think about these challenges and how we can meet them. Meticulously researched and well written. Click here for "Sharing God's Planet," from The Church of England. Episcopal Life. (PDF files require Adobe Acrobat Reader.)