This morning I attended church and came away feeling frustrated, disillusioned and a bit sick.
The sermon was on giving and blessings. When you bless someone else you will be blessed…we all know that but that is not why you give to others of money, time or talent. Whether the blessings received are financial, emotional, physical, etc., blessings do materialize. Not the reason to give … but they are a by-product of giving and blessing others. Blessings flow when you happily give and serve. He gave examples of blessing others and receiving blessings. He told two stories. But I wonder if they were ones he should have used. One story was he had “given” away his $90 pen (yikes – $90 for a pen???) after some debating this decision in his head overnight. He said that he had received more in return – an expensive chain (necklace) worth far more than his pen. He talked about giving away a $150 watch and getting one worth 15 fold in return after that. It seemed as though he was gloating, priding himself over the cost of the items he gave away and that om return he received far more than that. There was a bit more to the stories but that was the boiled down version. It seemed to be solely centered on money – well at leasat that is the taste that was left. A bad taste. It just made me wonder why he continually brought up the cost of what he gave away and that monetarily he received far more than he gave.
Then I continued to sit and listen as he talked on and on about “giving” to help build a new youth camp the church is funding complete with man-made lake and water park. Water park are you kidding? It looked to be the size of an amusement park.
Over and over and over he talked about giving, stepping up and making a pledge, a year long commitment to contribute heartily to this youth camp. The promotion for this campaign seemed endless. He talked about our self-indulgent society and where our priorities lie. That our society needs to pay attention to the next generation and spread the gospel of Christ. He brought up the fact that our world is in need of help. The images portrayed in magazines and in the movies are over the top. The music – you name it – our society is full of “bad examples” of what is “worthwhile” and important. But is a water park worthwhile – a necessity — for a church youth camp???
What image ARE we portraying? One of wealth and prosperity. Of materiality and providing outrageous “stuff” at a youth camp. He asked for the church to stretch and reach toward a goal of $5 million in December for building the camp. Yes – $5 million and that is just a start! The camp will include cabins, dorms – and that is all well and good … but also included in the plans are a huge man-made lake and an over the top massive water park?? All in the name of reaching the “next generation.” Come on – $5 million can feed an entire 3rd world country for a year. There will be over one million orphans in Latin America and the Caribbean by the year 2010. Where is the need? Really – where is the need? A water park and lake at a youth camp or to help alleviate the current need to cloth and feed the millions of people worldwide that are not born into our nation of abundance.
As I put items in the cart at the Dollar store to send abroad – I had to call Nicky and say wow – $5 million sure could be put to a greater use than the proposal for the youth camp amenities. And I felt sick. Sick because in my perception that $5 million could be better spent. Sick because I wonder WHERE our world’s priorities lie.
And in return I ask that pastor – WHERE ARE the church’s PRIORITIES? I’ll just leave it at that.
In His Mighty Grip,