Be generous and share

Do you remember Mary Poppins? Do you remember the old woman in the town square in front of the church calling out, "Feed the birds, feed the birds?"

For a few pennies this woman will hand you a bag of crumbs to feed the birds. Mary Poppins has an important life lesson to teach today.

She takes Jane and Michael to encounter the bird lady and to have the pleasure of caring for birds, a lesson in charity and generosity.

Of course, the children's father, a banker, has lessons to teach also. He wants to teach the children the importance of investing, and investing early on.

Time value of money can keep you comfortable in your later years. Don't waste even little sums on simple pleasures. Once spent it is gone. Investment builds empires.

There is truth and wisdom in both teachings. What is the higher wisdom? Mary's lesson is not so much about spending as it is about sharing.

Mr. Bank's lesson is about discipline, restraint, saving for tomorrow, budgeting. Certainly we should avoid waste. But "budget" can be a terrible word in managing God's kingdom.

Budgets are often managed like handcuffs restraints. The word and practice must have been brought to the church from practices found elsewhere.

Can holiness be found in such a word as "budget?" A budget should never be a maximum, but rather a minimum expectation that helpfully brings us to the balcony, the vantage point whereupon we can look over the edge to see the potential yet before us, the opportunities for real spending. The larger work of church elders is not budget but generosity.

Who has taught you not to waste? Who has taught you to save? Both are important. And who has taught you to share? Who has taught you to be generous?

Each of us in our personal worlds wrestles with similar questions on a daily basis. Do people really just give money away? No. Not "just."

People really do, however, release money to make holy differences. People release money to "bless," to show the favor of God, to restore life, to shine the light onto each soul of humanity, and environmentally too.

Once you have learned not to waste, and once you have learned to save; now you have the opportunity to be truly generous and to share with others, even pigeons.

So friends, do not waste. Save money, and account for all your resources. Hurry to meet the budget so we can stand in the balcony. Along the way and in the balcony pray to God for vision.

Now, perhaps, we can see the mission before us which has been ordained for men and women like us to accomplish in moments such as this true for the church, true for borough councils, true for foundations.

As we have been blessed, now we have the opportunity to be instruments of blessing. For God is with us, God is love, and God is good.

"God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Hear again the Lyrics to "Feed the Birds" and may the lesson echo through your life.

Early each day to the steps of Saint Paul's;

The little old bird woman comes;

In her own special way to the people;

She calls, "Come, buy my bags full of crumbs."

"Come feed the little birds, show them you care;

And you'll be glad if you do.

Their young ones are hungry; their nests are so bare.

All it takes is tuppence (twopence) from you."

"Feed the birds, tuppence a bag;

Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag;

"Feed the birds," that's what she cries;

While overhead, her birds fill the skies;

All around the cathedral, the saints and apostles;

Look down as she sells her wares.

Although you can't see it, you know they are smiling.

Each time someone shows that he cares;

Though her words are simple and few:

"Listen, listen," she's calling to you;

"Feed the birds, tuppence a bag;

Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag"

Though her words are simple and few:

"Listen, listen," she's calling to you;

"Feed the birds, tuppence a bag

Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag"n

Rev. John Flower, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Clarion.