I am liberal. Granted.
I find it difficult to agree with more conservative perspectives. Granted. But I usually understand conservative perspectives, even when I do not agree with them. But try as I might, I just don't get this one.
There is a group in my congregation who has over $5,000.oo to spend. They make money at an annual craft bazaar that they then use to purchase something for the church. This year, they are purchasing ... are you ready for this? ... a pre-lit artificial Christmas tree. Cost = $30.00.
Let me repeat the figures, just to make sure you are with me. They have over $5,000.00 in their bank account and they are deciding to spend $30 of it to buy an artificial Christmas tree. (Incidentally, the tree is designated to be used to display ornaments in next year's craft bazaar. Nice, huh?)
The church building currently has four bathrooms in need of tile, one bathroom that needs stall dividers, the main lobby area needs new carpet, the office needs a new copy machine, the library sure could use a new set of Bible commentaries, two classrooms are in need of new furniture, it would be great to have some new artwork on the lobby walls, we would like to have three more computers networked, yada yada and yada. ...
They bought a Christmas tree (for themselves). They have $5,000.00 in the bank. I don't get it. Surely this isn't typical financial conservatism, is it? There must be something else going on. They made the crafts in order to make the money so that it could be spent on something for the church, didn't they? They said they didn't make any other purchases because they didn't know the exact cost of some of the things we need, and so they didn't want to give any of their money toward them. (The commentary set, of which the exact cost was known, was voted down in a secret ballot vote and no explanation was offered.) Why not say that they would like to give $500.00 toward the cost of the bathroom tile, for example? Then if that doesn't cover it, they could decide to spend a little more, perhaps?
Let's talk a little stewardship, here. Let's talk a little extravagant generosity. These people would ask God for a receipt after offering the first fruits of all they possess.
"Uh, yes, Jesus, quick question - how much exactly will my discipleship cost? I want to know for sure before I decide if I'm going to make that kind of commitment or not. After all, its my life and I can decide to do with it as I please." And while that is certainly true, there is something intrinsically radical about being grasped by the presence of the living Christ that precludes any notion of careful deliberation. There is nothing conservative about discipleship.
Sigh. I know, I know. We are going to be just fine without the bazaar women's $5,000.00. They will spend it when they are damn good and ready to spend it, I am sure. I'm sure I'm just going overboard as usual. But sitting there in the "meeting" at which they made their decisions was one of the most bizaare experiences I have had recently. It really was a bizaare bazaar.