A house of prayer for all people
…includes those who cannot give financially.
I have economic inclusion on the brain this evening. I’m working on preparing a curriculum for high school students at a summer program site where I can expect a wide range of socioeconomic diversity. My site is located in-between 2 major American cities, making it really easy for the site to serve students from various urban backgrounds. Thinking about inclusion is challenging. I do not want to choose examples, topics, themes, what have you that will fail to connect with my students. But at the same time, I want to provide rigorous and demanding experiences.
…yet I find myself trying to develop curriculum appreciating limited access to the prime educational tools. In particular, I’m sort of missing the ability to ask my students to do internet research and use graphing software. I get to pull from my creative resources and have a good time thinking about “low-technology engineering” (which in many ways is an oxymoron).
It is amazing how we can get hung up on not having the right “tools” for a particular job. Churches can get hung up on some of the aesthetic features. There are ways that things should be done. There are things that must be present. I am not knocking the churches that are so beautifully adorned that I stop breathing when I walk inside. I am glad those temples exist. But we can really engage in an exercise of missing the point if we allow surface features to be must-have items.
What does it look like to open our congregations to the full participation of the less financially able? How do we shepherd congregations to be cheerful givers?
I think one potential path forward is to embrace the oxymoron of humble gifts of faith, hope, love, and joy. I love hearing stories like the Orthodox bishop in San Francisco who would only serve wearing the miter adorned by paper icons from his orphans, the widow casting her two mites into the Treasury, and the nun who would only take the worst possible pair of shoes.
And you never know what you might encounter when you let an offering done from love and joy continue, even though it does not quite seem to fit the bill exactly. People’s creativity may surprise you and you may have created space for a whole new set of people.