The concept of Plenty in the Queensland Synod is based on the deep understanding that God’s economy – the way of working out all that is, is beyond all our ideas of graciousness and spaciousness. As those caught in the image and outworking of this economy, we will only ever see what is revealed to us. This reading of the widow and the jars of oil takes us into the realm of mystery, miracles, transformation, and redemption.
As a person with a strong Protestant work ethic, it has been my struggle throughout my adult life to relinquish a perspective that says, “unless I do this, it will not be done – so now I must do this”. Instead, this reading, where the widow begs for help, says that even with what you have, as incomplete, hopeless and lost as you might feel, God will take and provide what is needed.
How does that put my drive to ensure everything is in place into context? What do I do with the gifts that are available to me in greater or lesser measure? When do I step forward, and when do I step back?
The profound wisdom of the ages is available to us in almost every book in the bible. It’s never, never all or nothing. It’s not one or the other. Instead, it is about being attuned to the working of God in your life. When do you pause, when do you step forward, and when is God quietening you for a reason? When are you open to the rush of the spirit, the abundant oil? And when do you need to be caught in the execution of the task “sell the oil and pay your debts?” Approach your role in humility. Listen to the wisdom of those around you. Understand that doing things together with the constant hope and expectation of transformation and liberation is our greatest gift to the world at the moment. It is the faithful following of the way of Christ.
Rev Heather den Houting is the General Secretary, Uniting Church in Queensland.