My friends and family play this game called “Would You Rather…” It sets up silly and sometimes serious scenarios and you have to decide which of the two you would rather do. It’s good for parties… it’s good for car rides…
And it’s good for getting to really know someone.
Would you rather live in a place that was always very hot or a place that was always very cold?
Would you rather swim in a pool of marshmellows or a pool of M&Ms?
Would you rather go without the internet or a car for a month?
Would you rather be poor and work at a job you love or be rich and work at a job you hate?
With our children in just a minute, we’ll talk about how King Solomon is faced with a “would you rather” question of his own.
God comes to Solomon in a dream and basically asks what is the one thing that he wants to receive… what is the one blessing that he wants to sustain him for the rest of his life.
Would you rather have wealth or power or love…?
Or would you rather have something else?
Solomon quickly answers with the one thing he both wants and needs… “Give me your wisdom so that I can help your people.”
If you are anything like me, when faced with a kind of “would you rather” question about the one thing I want or need, my thoughts first went to the things that I need in my life for daily sustenance.
And because we live in a world that is run by money… maybe that is what I would ask for.
But how much? How much money is enough?
Enough to provide daily bread for my family?
Enough for a rainy day?
(For our time of confession this morning), I want to invite you to turn to a neighbor and answer this question:
How much do you need to provide daily bread for your family? Or to put it another way, what does it cost to put food on the table for one week in your home?
How much do you need to provide daily bread for your family?
It is a question we all wrestle with…
whether in Norway
or Des Moines.
Today, as we think about our daily bread… as we think about breaking bread with people all across the world today, on World Communion Sunday, the stark differences between what is available and what is needed in these various places across our world is astounding.
The needs and concerns that any given family have are so varied.
I recently joined the Board of Directors with DMARC, the Des Moines Area Religious Council. Today, one of their major focuses is on food distribution in Central Iowa.
And what I have learned is that the need that surrounds us, right here in Polk County is great. Many families… many working families… don’t have enough to put daily food on their tables.
Solomon was King David’s son and when his father died, he became the ruler of the land. He wasn’t a perfect person and he often was focused on things other than God.
But God came to Solomon in a dream one night with a simple offer: “Ask whatever you wish, and I’ll give it to you.”
Whatever you wish.
He could have asked for palaces of gold, or a thousand wives, or to rule the world…
But he found himself in this new position of power and responsibility and he had one request:
“Give me, your servant, a discerning mind so that I can govern your people, so I can tell good from evil, and so I can take care of your people.”
What amazes me is that Solomon didn’t see this one wish, this blessing from God, as a “I” request… what do I want or need.
He saw it as an “US” request… what do we, God’s people, need.
He asked for wisdom.
He asked to be fed, not with the daily bread of grains and wheat, but with the daily bread of the Word of God.
He asked for something that would bless all the people.
Today, we are kicking off our month long series focusing on John Wesley’s simple advice for our finances… that we should earn all we can, save all we can, and give all we can.
And I think that as we start to explore Wesley’s advice, he starts in the same place as Solomon.
Over the next few weeks we will discover that he encourages us to find joy in the money we make, but to do so in ways that benefit the well being of others and ourselves.
He will encourage us to be frugal, to not be extravagant or wasteful and to save as much as possible.
But the goal of both of these is always in service of the third…. To give all we can.
To make a difference in the lives of other people.
To serve God by feeding the people, visiting them in prison, taking care of the sick, giving clothes to the naked.
Wesley encourages us to do just what Solomon did…. to shift our focus away from what me and my family needs and to think bigger…
What do God’s people need?
What kind of wisdom and discernment and truth is required in order to take care of one another?
What is needed, here in Polk County, in order to survive?
Above is a basic budget that details the cost of living in this county in Iowa… a comparison of the basic expenses that a family needs in order to provide a simple home and daily bread for their family. (from www.iowapolicyproject.com)
As the demand for food pantries and assistance in our community has skyrocketed in the last few months, I was wondering why until I saw this chart.
If you look at the final column, you will see that a family of two working parents with only one child needs to make at least $44,639 a year in order to meet these basic expenses.
That means that together, with both working, they each need to make at least $10.50 an hour.
The minimum wage here is $7.25.
If you work full time on these wages, you simply cannot make ends me. It is impossible.
So I wonder what it means to ask for daily bread and daily wisdom in Polk County, Iowa today.
I wonder what it means to ask for daily bread in Mongolia and Ecuador.
And I pray that God would give us the wisdom to ensure that every family has enough, as we gather around the table this morning to break bread.