A Generosity Project Reflection – Gathering Up the Fragments

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A Generosity Project Reflection – Gathering Up the Fragments

The Generosity Project is a collaborative effort between ABCUSA, regions, and local congregations. The Generosity Project aims to help pastors re-frame the conversation around stewardship and generosity in their congregations. Bi-monthly blogs help support new growth and understanding as we deepen our ministry and discipleship. The reflection below was provided by Rev. Stacy Emerson.

In the sixth chapter of the gospel of John, the author recounts the time Jesus and the disciples faced a moment of scarcity. They were up on a mountain surrounded by a crowd of people, and there was nothing to eat. Andrew points out a young boy with five barley loaves and two fish which clearly was not enough. “But what are they among so many people?”, they wonder out loud. Jesus knows the answer. He takes the loaves and fishes and blesses them and distributes the food among the people. It was enough and more than enough. Then Jesus says to his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” Jesus always shows great concern about lost things. They need to be found and rejoiced over. They need to be welcomed home and brought to him.

When we live in a mindset of scarcity, there are a lot of fragments that get left behind and lost. We lose hope. We lose perspective. We even lose faith. We get so inner-focused, we can’t see the five thousand waiting for a blessing. Jesus says to his followers, “gather up the fragments…” Whatever it is. Bits of hope. Possibilities for a new way. Scraps of light that heal and forgive and the odds and ends of grace that make a way. In God’s mathematics, what feels small and insignificant is all it takes to move a mountain, to turn mourning into dancing, to release the chains that bind us. In God’s hands, what is small and broken is taken and made whole and abundant and enough, more than enough.

It’s our job to gather up the fragments. Turn them over into God’s keeping for a blessing and in the creative and powerful ways of grace, those fragments become the resources of our ministry and mission, the life-giving bread we need to bless the world. But we have got to learn how to let go of scarcity and see what God can do with what we have. I appreciate the reminder of the power of this kind of stewardship in Deborah Gordon Cooper’s poem: “I save up every scrap of light, because I know that it will take each tiny consolation everyday to mend the world.”

Rev. Stacy Emerson is the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in West Hartford, CT and the Stewardship Consultant for ABCUSA.  She is also the Coordinator for The Generosity Project which is about helping congregations deepen their understanding of stewardship as a call to generosity as disciples of Jesus; re-framing the stewardship conversation; and cultivating generosity in pastors, lay people, and congregations.