Wednesday, April 2, 2014


The Invitation to Observe a Holy Lent invites us to enter into a more disciplined life.  It is a journey most of us have started; yet, one where we are constantly reminded that we still have a way to go.  Truly, it is one of those journeys where we must admit that we have not arrived.  The Invitation we heard back around Ash Wednesday called us to look again at things like self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting, and the next thing mentioned was almsgiving.  Now, there is a strange word for us.  Almsgiving is not really a word included in our normal vocabulary.  Literally, it means giving that is directed to the poor. 
There is no question that we all do some giving.  Some of us do more than others.  Some do less than we probably should.  When we give we give to God.  At times the church is the channel for that giving.  Or, we may choose to give directly to some mission project that touches people's lives in a distressed part of the world.  But, this inclusion of almsgiving in the Invitation causes us to wonder if we ever really do any.  Do we actually give to the poor, or do we depend on someone else to take some of our offerings and do it for us?

Giving to the poor is not easy for most of us.  The truth is we do not have many of the world's poor in our daily circle of contacts.  Being able to surf the net and use a handful of different communication devices takes out of the circle where the poor live.  And when we see someone who seems to belongs to such a group, we are not usually eager to meet them or get acquainted.  Instead, we are likely to go the other way, or at least get back into a social setting where we are more comfortable.  It is not that we do not have an awareness that the poor move and live around us, or that some people are in desperate circumstances.  We just live in such a way as to keep them out of view.  Embracing such a lifestyle and world view makes almsgiving difficult, if not impossible.

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