Of cliffs and widows

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Do you believe in the fiscal cliff? No really. Do you believe in this much-feared, all-consuming, cliff of economic doom?

It is stewardship season in many churches. Odd, really, that talk of stewardship is confined to a single season or even a single Sunday. And its even more strange that on that day we often read about poor widows. This year, reading of poor widows in the lectionary coincided with hearing newscasts full of talk of a fiscal cliff.

The prophet Elijah comes upon a widow and her son in Zarephath and asks for aid. She welcomes him, but casts doubt on her ability to help, as there is only a bit of meal left in the jar. Yet this woman does not deny Elijah. She opens up in the midst of her sorrow and fear, “We shall eat this cake and die.”

Here in a forsaken place, already up and over the cliff, Elijah brings word of God’s will for generosity. “Do not be afraid,” the prophet says. And indeed, that jar of meal never runs out, and nobody dies of hunger. Mother, son and prophet live on and serve the Lord, the God of mysterious abundance.

What I hear us being asked in this story, especially as this story is placed alongside words of economic terror in our nation, is this: Will we be people of scarcity or abundance?

When scarcity is the operating principle, we fear cliffs and crises at every turn: there is never enough, never security. We hoard our bread in many forms. We even hoard our love, afraid that if we become vulnerable to another we lose something of ourselves.  

When God’s abundance is the operating principle, we look at what we have a decide to share. We are able to love because God has loved us. The lives of the most needy, the most forlorn, are preserved. Fear is cast out because God’s provisions are shared among all.

And let us be certain: God’s abundance if difference than abundance for its own sake. Consumption and production without care or thought is not God’s way either. What the jar of meal means is not that we can eat and eat without thought or consequence. Rather, it means that in God, there is always enough. That “enough” allows community, neighborliness and love to thrive.

May we believe more in the jar of meal than the fiscal cliff. May we be claimed and called by a generous God. May we listen to Elijah and remind one another, “Do not be afraid.” We have everything we need.

About Liv Larson Andrews

Liv Larson Andrews believes in the sensus lusus, or playful spirit. Liturgy, worship and faithful practice are at their best when accompanied with a wink, she says.

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5 comments

  1. Liv,

    Definitely a topic worthy of discussion. I don’t know what to think about the “fiscal cliff”. I know that if allowed to happen taxes will be raised significantly in 2013 and not just for “the rich”. There will be hard times for all of us and to deny it is like the ostrich with it’s head in the sand. It is also hard to discuss this because it’s like apple and oranges. Our government has done everything it can to erase God from our public discourse, and disconnect us from the influence of Godliness from our past society. To then ask us to count on His goodness as a nation is a little hypocritical I’m not saying you in your article, but if our country is to expect God’s favor they might think about giving Him the praise and reverence that He is due.

    For those who know and love the Lord Jesus Christ, He will absolutely always be there for us. Even if we don’t have material things, we have Him and His eternal promises!

  2. The more I read about it and listen to news reporting I don’t believe there is a fiscal cliff. As usual Obama gives no information or leadership, just holds the country hostage for his own political gain. He would rather destroy our economy than compromise even when he doesn’t believe what he’s peddling himself. He has a winning hand in the public relations dept, with the duplicitoius media by his side, being able to blame republicans no matter what happens, but that is no excuse for his uncaring, “I won, deal with it” approach.

  3. Right, because Republicans would NEVER dream of holding the country hostage for political gain. You know, like, hypothetically over something like the debt ceiling. And Obama hasn’t AT ALL been compromising his ass off over the last 4 years. As I once posted in a different thread, there’s a great Slate article about how Republicans should take solace in the fact that we just re-elected a moderate Republican.

  4. Aaron, I don’t hold out any more hope for most republicans, there are probably just as many lying snakes there as there are in the democrat den. However, if you want to talk lying hypocrite just go back to obama’s comments about GWB’s debt ceiling before the first election and then fast forward to his desire to have power to raise unlimited debt with no congressional oversight, even AFTER raising us to 16 trillion and counting himself. This man is a dictator waiting to happen and we have 51% cluelessness. Read up on the last 2 NDAA’s that Obama signed if you think I’m wearing my tin foil hat again.

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