Times being what they are - seems we need to look out for one another as best we can. Let me just get straight to the point: We need to help one another out a little bit!
If you know of a service you might need and there is a fellow parishioner within our congregation who can perform that service or someone in town you could hire - then please try to utilize that person's services or purchase their goods. It is said that for every dollar that is spent within a local economy, like when we buy from a
local business or farm-that one-dollar will generate seven times more "local dollars." Sounds almost Biblical doesn't it? Indeed, participating in a local economy is a blessing and will cause our community to be more prosperous. Just look at the Amish communities - these are prosperous people, because they often barter and work
closely together within "their community" with a sharp distinction from people on the outside-although they're always pleased to have your business too!
When we purchase food or clothing or hardware from a large chain store then that money leaves our local economic system and, in fact, much of it leaves the American economy and goes to foreign investors. We'll not be hurting global markets by working together wherever we can, but we'll do ourselves and our community a lot of good
by seeking to buy our food from local farms, and support local tradespersons for repairs, maintenance or new amenities in our homes or places of employment. Perhaps the lesson of strengthening the local economy can also apply to our faith and our church. If we invest our faith with those who are closest to us, like with our spouse,
our family or neighbors, then that faith will remain within our households, neighborhood and town for a productive period of time. I don't know if it will last 7 minutes, 7 hours or 7 years, but I know Jesus will bless those who call upon his name and show by their actions that they are Christians in their local environs.
We see Jesus beginning his ministry on a local basis as he starts by teaching and preaching in his home town of Nazareth. Not that everything always goes perfect for Jesus (or for us) at home in an immediate fashion, some undertakings begun at home don't show a profit until later (like the 7 year principle!). But soon we see that
Jesus moves on with his ministry as he goes out into other people's homes, neighborhoods and towns preaching, healing and developing disciples.
It seems that as he gets going he develops momentum (maybe this is the ideal of local economics - it's not a top-down thing, but works best from the bottom up) and the more believers and disciples are added to his movement the more wonderful things happen. In Luke's Gospel, as the Seventy disciples returned from being sent out by
Jesus they proclaimed, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" (Luke 10:17) Indeed, Jesus knew he needed to develop the faith "at home" in Jerusalem, and then it could spread - even to people who did not believe or who had never heard of the God of Israel. We can take Jesus' example for our congregational life as well. We
can invest ourselves in the work that Christ has for us here at Elias.
This includes investing in one another both practically and spiritually. This also includes continued support of the Church's ministries through our tithes and offerings and of service. We have to invest in our home ministry and then watch as God uses us to bless the rest of our town and the world - even with people in places we
never dreamed of doing ministry with. Is not that the miracle of the loaves and the fishes? That everyone was fed and that there was more left over?
Sounds like a thriving economy to me!
Through the Gospel Jesus calls us to this task. In fact, it's more like a way of life. We need to offer what we have, not what we don't have. Not having material goods is no excuse for abandoning the work of ministry. In fact, when we are lacking is the time to get involved and become part of everyone's blessing. This is very much
what Jesus was doing and teaching others to do. Find the blessing that comes by faith, in community, and with other believers.
The final verses of Matthew's Gospel say, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20). When we do this first of all in our homes (our Jerusalem) then we'll
eventually be led out to those far reaches and people's of the world. This is God's challenge and blessing for us in Times Like These.
Peace and Prosperity to all - in Jesus Name.