Dear Edwards Community,
Recently I discovered a Canadian documentary film from 1955 titled Harvest in the Valley. It chronicles the annual potato harvest in the St. John River valley in that era. Every fall whole families, from school age children to elders, travelled to each other’s farms to help gather the harvest. It was hard work done at a brisk pace. Neighbors helped each other in reciprocal fashion, but they also paid each other for their labor.
At first I was disappointed that they felt the need to pay. But after considering the amount of work done and the potential for inter-farm, inter-family imbalances, it made sense. Each harvester was paid at the end of each day based on how many barrels of potatoes they gathered. These were for-profit farms, after all. Families were still helping each other, but no one needed to worry about keeping track. Paying by the barrel did that.
I sometimes get tired of asking for money, and I worry you might feel like you are always being asked to give. There are so many good causes, and we are just one church. Even if we are financially fortunate as a church, we cannot solve all the problems in the valley, much less the world. So how are we to balance all the competing demands?
Using our individual consciences, we each get to decide whether and how much to give, whenever the appeal is directly to one of us as an individual or family, and we use our collective conscience as a congregation, whenever we make gifts in the name of the church. For example, this year your Outreach Committee has reviewed every organization to which it sends annual support, asking whether it is one that aligns with our church’s mission, vision and values (Should we give?) and whether our gift really makes a difference (Are we giving the right amount?). Changes have been made.
I love a good baked potato, with plenty of butter or sour cream and chives. I even like them with broccoli and melted cheese. Who doesn’t like a hot baked potato, especially on a chilly evening? How do you like yours?
Imagine that what we do through our charitable giving is like serving a hot baked potato to a cold, hungry neighbor: someone living outdoors who comes to Cathedral in the Night, a guest of the Cot Shelter smiling back across the counter, or a single mom struggling to get a leg up in housing; a guest who finds good food and friendly faces serving MANNA meals, or a client of Safe Passage who has taken her first bold step to a new life.
We cannot always give all that we might or all that is needed, and sometimes we cannot give at all. But when we recognize a need and are able to respond, we are neighbors helping neighbors near and far. And we are blessed by the act of sharing.