The following meditation arrived in my email box yesterday for today, and is relative to something on my mind, that I will explain in a few moments. It comes from Daily Meditations here.
This poor woman put in more than all the rest. (see Luke 21:3)This is so pertinent to me at this moment because of something we received at Church on Sunday, and some opportunities that my good wife (I don't have a bad wife) and I have been presented with this year and are presented with today.
Giving from surplus is a good thing. Sharing with all is a good thing. Caring for others from the abundance God has given us is a good thing. But a better thing is to care for others in a way that costs something, that puts us out just a little.
In the passage, Jesus refers specifically to the money that the poor widow donated for the poor. But His statement goes for anything we give out of our poorness. If we are busy executives, parents, spouses, people, and we stop to spend five minutes with a stranger in trouble -- this is a gift beyond measure.
If we are depressed, unhappy, sad, lonely people and we take time to serve those in the same condition or those who can't leave their homes, we are paying out of our poorness. We are always blessed when we do this. Not that we expect blessings, but blessings come because that is the way of the love of God.
Continue to give from your surplus; continue to do all the good things you do. But we would all do well to seek places where we could give more from our poverty, more from the banks that we feel have only two pennies themselves. For by investing those two pennies, God will pay back abundantly. Our God is a God rich in love and full of knowledge of what we need, so when we give out of our neediness, He replenishes with His love.
We were reminded yesterday about the face of Poverty in Ontario. This was in our bulletin:
Some statistics on poverty
Did you know?
* More people are affected by poverty than you may realize. One child in nine - 324,000 children - are growing up poor in Ontario?
* People in poverty are living far below a decent living standard. The average low-income family would need $7,100 more, just to reach the poverty line.
* Hunger is all too common in Ontario, with food banks serving over 318,000 people in Ontario, 39 % of them children. This number is up 14% since 2001.
* Just having a job does not guarantee a livable income. The combination of low wages and high rents means that a growing number of working people must rely on food banks to ward off hunger. For example, 21% of people using the Barrie Food Bank are regular wage-earners.
* The shortage of affordable housing deepens the hardships experienced by low-income people. This shortage affects people all over our diocese, in communities large and small. In Haliburton County, some people are living in trailers or cottages where pipes freeze in the winter, and they cannot afford heat. Meanwhile a low-income family in the Region of Peel would have to wait 21 years for subsidized housing, the longest waiting list in Ontario.
* Poverty costs us all. In fact, it's extremely expensive. Did you know that poverty costs every household in Ontario at least $2,300 a year? The total figure for extra health care costs, social assistance costs, lost tax revenues, crime and other hidden costs, according to a new report by the Ontario Association of Food Banks.
* Other countries have done much better than Canada in reducing poverty. While our rate of poverty is 12%, countries such as Finland and Sweden have less than 5% of their people living in poverty. In our country, Quebec has been able to cut its child poverty rate in half during the past decade.
* Measures that could help uplift families from poverty include: a $10 minimum wage (currently it's $8.75); an enriched Ontario Child Benefit; low-cost child care; higher social assistance rates; and policies to make it easier to move from social assistance to work.
* A growing number of Ontario citizens want action. Anglicans are part of a broad, non-partisan coalition calling for a detailed action plan to reduce poverty by 25% over the next five years, thus uplifting over 300,000 Ontarians from poverty. It's called the 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction (www.25in5.ca).
Seems pretty daunting, doesn't it? So, one thing that happens in our parish is we have the St. George Parish Christmas Charity Project. It's aim is as follows:
This year our Christmas Charity Project will offer a helping hand to the families who are in need this Christmas. We are pleased to tell you that this year in addition to helping those all across London, we are also working with the Christmas Cares Campaign to help the families living in St. Thomas.
There are 4 ways that those interested can help:
1) Food Hamper Sponsorship - Last year the parish sponsored over 70 prepared food hampers. This year the program is expanded to sponsor a complete family for Christmas including food and gifts, though basic food hampers will still be a part of the programme. So, we can have all the necessary details to shop for a family in need, and can make that part of our own Christmas preparation. Call it an Advent reminder of God's goodness if you will.
2) Giving Tree - Our parish has a giving tree with tags for kids with gender and age on them. You then go out and buy a suitable gift for how ever many tags you picked up, and return them to the Church.
3) Financial Gifts - You can write a cheque, but these ones are to buy food vouchers for 100 families or so.
4) Canned Goods Food Drive - Here you can give canned foods at masses in the first two weekends of December, which will go to our Saint Vincent De Paul cupboards for distribution.
There is plenty of opportunity to give from our own poverty in this.
My wife and I decided this year that giving of ourselves even in our own disability, was a far better way to share with our brothers and sisters who have less than we have. So, though we give financially to causes we believe in or who ask us for support, but also, among other things, we have given back packs of school supplies for kids whose parents cannot afford to provide them. Recently we fell into a sale at Staples where we got much of what we want for next year's back to school time, which we have tucked away while we gather it all up and wait for the time. This fall, we made up 10 of them. But, with the sale, we think we can do at least 20 next year. We are excited to know that we are doing something real for someone else with needs more pressing than ours.
Will you please remember those whose needs are greater than yours this Christmas Season, and then all year next year?
God will bless you more than you can imagine.