Changing attitude to our property resources
When Rev. Niall Reid was Moderator, he held a radical vision of how we might change our attitude to our property resources.
We were recently reading in the lectionary from Matthew chapter 5 — the Sermon on the Mount. Here Jesus calls us to lofty principles of ethos, attitude and action. It is not enough, in his Book, to act according to conventional wisdom, or ‘reasonable’ understanding based on human shortcomings and anxieties.
Time and again he says, “You heard that it was said…” followed by some statement of what might be understandable behaviour that no reasonable person would criticise. He then follows with, “But I say to you…” calling for exceptional attention to the details of ethical behaviour, and then going the extra mile.
Applying such an approach to our missional use of property and other resources, Jesus might have said something like, “You have heard that it was said ‘charity begins at home’, but I say to you, ‘give without counting the cost, and your giving will be blessed beyond your wildest imagining’”. He did in fact say, “…give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap…” (Luke 6:38a).
This does not mean that we give in order to receive. Rather, it means we err on the side of generosity because that is what is needed; whether it is out of our abundance or out of our scarcity.
It means that while we recognise the all-too-human need to hang on to what is ‘ours’ (even when it isn’t!), in the Kingdom of God our ethos is to put the needs of others first. Bearing in mind the words of poet Mary Gilmore, you may have heard that it was said, “My son’s bread is my son’s bread”, but I say to you that a church that is generous, inclusive and courageous sees all creation as family, to be fed and accommodated according to the need of allIt is a tough call. We have become used to ‘our place’ as if we owned it. The fact is that we are bigger than just that. To quote Niall, “The Uniting Church has the credibility, ethos and resources that give it the potential to make a significant impact on the spiritual and social landscape of Australian society.”
There is some irony that Niall now has a free-ranging role with the Synod of New South Wales and the ACT. Some might call it ‘karma’! I call it having the courage of your convictions. I am sure he is hoping that we all have that.
We do it for Christ and the Common Good.
Rev. Dr Brian Brown, Moderator