Something bigger

There was a time when I thought I had to think big when making my life bucket list,  but no more.  Now, my bucket list is made up of those little things that I had previously thought I was too busy to do . . like ringing the bell for the Salvation Army.  The other day, my daughter and I put on the red aprons and Santa hats and stood by the kettle in front of our local Walmart.  It was cold, but we had a blast, and the hour and a half went quickly.

I’ve started reading a book my friend gave me,  Scott Gustafon’s Biblical Amnesia.   I’m only pages into it, but already I am hooked.  He underscores the importance of reading the Bible through the lens of the time and culture in which it was written, not as if written in the 21st century.  He insists that we dare not read the Bible as if it was written today.  There is always a context for everything, no matter when, where, or how and that is as true today as in the past.  But what is catching my attention, and is one I have never considered,  is that the Bible is a rebuttal to the domination system that has been so dominant since the times of King David. 

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The Bible is a record of the way God’s people have tried to defy the domination system and to provide a truly viable alternative to rankings of power and wealth.  The account of Israel’s demand for a king is a very important story,  as it describes what happened when the Israelites, thinking that having a king would be an improvement on their more democratic communal style of government, wanted to be like everyone else.  Up until then. Israel was governed under what Gustafson describes as the partnership system in which everyone is interdependent and helps each other.  They lived close to nature,  much as Native Americans before England colonized the US.  Up until Kind Saul, the Israelite leaders were prophets and judges, both male and female.

While ringing the bell the other day, we greeted a lot of people – some well-dressed,  some pretty scruffy.  We greeted one and all, whether they gave or not, but most gave.  In fact, I recall only two who communicated an unspoken bah-humbug as they walked by.  What struck me was the generosity of everyone, especially those who seemed in less of a position to give.  One woman put some loose change in the kettle, apologizing the entire time because that was all she had.  She reminded me of the poor widow who gave her mite to the temple and whom Jesus memorialized for giving all she had.

We turned in our red aprons and Santa hats, aware that there was no way to identify who was a Democrat, Republican, well-to-do, dirt poor, Christian, or atheist….  When we start defining people in this way we are reflecting one of the consequences of the domination system in which we rank people by their so-called importance.  The people who passed by us were all our neighbors, even if we didn’t know them or anything about them.  For those brief moments, we were partners in supporting the work of the Salvation Army, which plays an important role in our communities. 

 I left smiling and pumped up,  as caring and sharing for a common cause defined the day for everyone.  It wasn’t much, ringing a bell for an hour and a half, but I felt so grateful that my daughter and I had this opportunity to be part of something so much larger than me, myself and I.  

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P J
P J
3 months ago

Thanks for the reflection!

People are people no matter where they live, what they earn, what race/gender/whatever they are. We all bleed the same color and generally want some close friends plus to be fed, clothed, have a shelter, and be able to enjoy our laps around the sun.

I wish we could all live in peace, helping those who need help for those basics (for one reason or another) as we can.

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