…then you shall say before the Lord your God, “I have removed the sacred portion out of my house, and moreover, I have given it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all your commandment that you have commanded me.”Deuteronomy 26:13a in the English Standard Version
This really jumped out at me yesterday in regards to our giving:
- The Levite: our tithe to Springfield Vineyard Church.
- The sojourner: our donation to the ACLU who continue to advocate on behalf of immigrants, particularly the children imprisoned in internment camps on the southern border of the USA.
- The fatherless: next month, we’ll begin giving to the Boys and Girls Club of Springfield. Those kids aren’t necessarily fatherless, but this fits with the idea of helping provide for kids.
- The widow: our donation to both Planned Parenthood and the Pregnancy Care Center. Again, not specifically to widows, but potentially to help women who aren’t otherwise getting the help they need.
Verse 13 continues through verse 14:
I have not transgressed any of your commandments, nor have I forgotten them. I have not eaten of the tithe while I was mourning, or removed any of it while I was unclean, or offered any of it to the dead. I have obeyed the voice of the Lord my God. I have done according to all that you have commanded me.Deuteronomy 26:13b-14 in the English Standard Version
The guy who cuts my hair normally wasn’t available. When I looked at the schedule online, I didn’t see him listed for several weeks, so I sought out the woman who had also cut my hair a couple of times in the last year and who had done a great job. I was dismayed to learn that she is no longer working at the barbershop near my home, but instead across town on Kearney Street. And thus I found myself driving to the North Side.
Everyone in Springfield knows that there is a North and South Side of the city. This was once codified, when the two towns were formed, as North Springfield and Springfield, and then they merged sometime after the Civil War. The train tracks were the natural divide, with poor workers living on the north and the merchants, doctors, and lawyers living on the south. Division Street happens to be on the parallel that divided the north and south in the Civil War, but Commercial Street is where Springfield was separated.
I grew up on the North Side. Not just the North, I was out in the country north of town. I went to Pleasant View elementary and middle school, and Hillcrest High School. A friend asked me recently if I knew I was poor growing up, and I told her that I did. We had a nice enough house, but we almost lost it to bankruptcy. I regularly stole food to get by. I didn’t have the opportunities a lot of my classmates did, and I was different enough from them that I was bullied and beaten as well. This is not an unusual tale on the North Side.
So when I have to go back there, it is with ambivalence. I am conflicted because I was hurt there, but when I drive out in the country north of town, I also love it. I love the trees and the rolling hills, and the solitude, and there were good memories too. Playing in Matt Wilson’s backyard, biking to the bridge near Fellow’s Lake with Megan, those rare opportunities when I was invited to Cody’s house. Matt Hudson’s class in high school, and working with Justin on IT stuff. Walking through the woods and across the hills behind our home. It was beautiful there.
But there was so much pain. My parents’ divorce. The concussions and spilled blood. Friends who committed suicide or overdosed or died in car crashes.
I’ve finally put the sermons that I have preached at Springfield Vineyard on this site. I’m using the Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin, almost exclusively because it provides a media enclosure for the audio file (so you can just click “play” instead of clicking a hyperlink or downloading the file), and I have set the date for each sermon post as the date on which it was delivered. It’s not ideal–the podcast “category” is its own separate thing, so sermons don’t show up in the Categories widget, and I had to use the podcasting widget and style it a bit–but it will do for now.
Part of Tim’s sermon on Sunday was about identifying the lines drawn in our community and then working to either cross those lines or erase them. We have a lot of lines in Springfield: political, socioeconomic, north side vs. south side, education, etc. And because we live so close to these lines, it’s sometimes hard for us to even see they exist. We stop noticing the homeless, or impoverished, or under-educated. We stop caring.
What does it mean when a church fails? It doesn’t matter the cause… maybe it ran out of money, or out of people, or likely both; maybe the pastor was corrupt, or the people were corrupt, or both; maybe the building was destroyed in an earthquake and the people moved away. Whatever, it failed. The church fell. What does that mean?
In an interesting turn of events, though it may not be interesting to anyone but me, Christian Blogging has become commonplace. Krista linked to this page, on which she is featured, and I realized that blogs are very much a Thing now.
I know what you’re thinking. “Matthew, blogs are old. This isn’t news. Where the hell have you been?”
Let me take you back in time, dear reader, back when blogs were new. Back before WordPress existed. Back when the Internet began to show signs of what it would become when the Eternal September began, and when AOL and Compuserve and Prodigy became our means of seeing honest to god graphics and pictures and blink tags. I was online around 1998, and have been active in only the way someone from my generation can be, by which I mean we think of being on the Internet as something distinct from, say, breathing, or eating, or going to work. Mine is the last generation to grow up in the United States without the ubiquity of the Internet, when every office wasn’t necessarily connected, and you had to go out of your way to interact with others via the tubes that connect us.
I probably don’t follow local politics as closely as I ought. I met the council member who represented my zone of the city once. I will occasionally hear about stuff that the city council is discussing, and I vote regularly, but I don’t really have my finger on the pulse of the city. If the city had low blood pressure and an arrhythmic heart, I might not notice for a while.