In Equal Measure
It’s “stewardship season” at Pinnacle Presbyterian Church, which means we’re asking folks to commit time and money, and prayer, to our ministry for 2019. While I’m tempted to make my post an appeal, I do want our blog to appeal beyond Pinnacle, so I’ll have a little restraint [though if you like this blog, you are welcome to give a gift to Pinnacle online www.pinnaclepres.org.]
In thinking on this topic, though, I found a lovely midrash on a midrash, by Rabbi Shawn Israel Zevit about the power of a gracious heart and generous giving that I thought I would share. It has universal meaning, I think, for many areas of our lives. It’s in Zevit’s book, Offerings of the Heart (pp. 113-114), based on Jeffrey Dekro and Lawrence Bush’s book, Jews, Money and Social Responsibility, in which they adapt a classic Rabbinic story from Midrash Rabbah. Like I said, a commentary on a commentary on a commentary — like many true things.
There are two seas in the land of Israel [and Palestine].
One is fresh, and fish are in it.
Splashes of green adorn its bands.
Trees spread their branches over it,
And stretch their thirsty roots
To sip of its healing waters.
Along its shores, children play.
The River Jordan makes this sea sparkle.
With water from the hills.
It laughs in the sunshine.
People build their homes near to it,
And birds their nests;
And every kind of life is happier
Because it is there.
The River Jordan also flows south into another sea.
Here there is no splash
Of fish, no fluttering leaf,
No song of birds, no children’s laughter.
Travelers choose another route
Unless on urgent business.
The air hangs heavily above its waters,
And neither person nor beast nor fowl will drink.
What makes this mighty difference in these seas?
Not the River Jordan.
It empties the same good water into both.
Not the soil in which they lie.
Not the country round about.
This is the difference.
The Sea of Galilee receives
But does not keep the Jordan.
For every drop flows out.
The giving and receiving
Go on in equal measure.
The other sea however, is shrewd,
Hoarding its income jealously.
It will not be tempted
Into any generous impulse.
Every drop it gets, it keeps.
It lets nothing flow out.
The Sea of Galilee gives and lives.
The other sea gives nothing.
It is called
The Dead Sea.