Thursday, December 3, 2009

Vineyards

"I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops."
-Stephen Jay Gould
American evolutionary biologist (1942-2002)

You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien.
-Leviticus 19:10

What does this look like in 2009? How can I incorporate the spirit of this instruction from God in my life? What are my modern-day "vineyards"? What are my "grapes", and how do I avoid "stripping my vineyards bare"?

Could it mean giving some of my time to mentor a child or teen?
Could it mean blessing a poor family directly by giving them items from my house instead of selling them or donating to an intermediary, like Goodwill?

It seems like a passive kind of charity- not gathering up some grapes and taking them down to the local food pantry. Just leaving them there. Is this kind of like how some of my tax dollars go to welfare, or lots of other social helping programs?

I think sometimes I rob myself of the joy of giving directly to the poor (instead of through intermediaries like churches or charities) because (let's be authentic here) I don't know very many destitute people personally.

Do you have any homeless friends?
Not me.
Well, not yet.
Give me four weeks, then my answer may change:)

I think its particularly interesting that the passage directly mentions giving to "the alien" in addition to the poor. Especially in Texas we often have a very uncompassionate view toward the "aliens" living nearby - the immigrant community, including undocumented immigrants.

People (coughLouDobbscough) get up in arms that "they" are crowding up our ERs and causing strain on our schools. But, as Americans, what are our collective "fallen grapes" that we should leave behind to share with the poor? Maybe its a few seats in the waiting room, or a few books borrowed from the library, or a few extra kids on the school bus?

Now notice, the verse does not say "leave every single one of your grapes" or "gather up all your grapes and give them all away to the hungry". But, we can spare a few, I think. We can scoot over and make room for another on the couch. Maybe my view would change if I spent a little time at their dinner table, or watched a Cowboys game together, or babysat their kids.

PS I'm thinking more and more about issues of immigration as I fall more in love with Parkside Place.

Katie

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