Weekly Bible Devotional
“Our Money Story: Remember”
November 1, 2020
The following reflections are from our friends at “A Sanctified Art”
We begin our series by looking back at what our spoken and unspoken money stories have been and how those stories have impacted our practices of stewardship. In these texts, we remember God’s steadfast relationship with us throughout time and trials. We remember that Judas betrayed Jesus in exchange for money but was still invited to the table. We remember that the Israelites complained in the wilderness but were met with manna. Even in stories of desperation and deep betrayal, we are gifted with God’s provision—of the feast of enough, and the holy meal of remembrance.
Scriptures for Sunday:
The whole congregation of the Israelites set out from Elim; and Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2 The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.” 6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaining against the Lord. For what are we, that you complain against us?” 8 And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the Lord has heard the complaining that you utter against him—what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord.”
9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’” 10 And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. 11 The Lord spoke to Moses and said, 12 “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”
Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near. 2 The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people.
3 Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; 4 he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them. 5 They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money. 6 So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present.
Notes on Exodus 16:
“Wearing worry about money like a hair shirt
I lie down in my bed and wrestle with my angel
My bank-manager could not sanction my continuance for another day
But life itself wakes me each morning, and love
Urges me to give although I have no money
In the bank at this moment, and ought properly
To cease to exist in a world where poverty
Is a shameful and ridiculous offence . . . .”
~From “Worry About Money” by Kathleen Jessie Raine
“The opening stanzas of Raine’s poem invite us into an experience which is both relatable and powerful, linking together ancient scripture (“wrestle with my angel”), the rhythms of daily life (“wakes me each morning”), and the poet’s money narrative (“My bank-manager could not sanction”). How do you connect faith, life, and finance in your own story? The Exodus account of the Israelites in the desert being told and retold as it is in our life of faith, is not unfamiliar, and it provides a powerful way to understand our relationship to God. As a reader reflects on God’s provision to God’s people in the wilderness, we hear echoes from elsewhere in scripture, of God’s enduring love and faithfulness, which extends from generation to generation.
The theme of God supplying enough found here in this text is a recurring theme throughout the bible including Jesus’ feeding of the thousands. Here we see a people enslaved for generations moving from an economy of fear and deprivation to one of provision in the wilderness. Strikingly, God provides a concept for what “enough” looks like and guides the faith community into claiming a day of Sabbath, a practice that simultaneously provides rest and guards against hoarding.
Within this text readers can hear a faith community’s changing narrative of money—moving from one which Walter Brueggemann describes as “the endless rat race for sufficiency,” to that of living with enough. We are called both to individual and collective remembrance of our relationship to God and to reflect on our relationship to money.” ~Erin Weber-Johnson
Notes on Luke 22:
“As we remember our own stories of money, we begin with a story not nearly as old as those of the Hebrew Scriptures but older than our own. The fearful religious leaders were plotting to kill Jesus. They were scared of the people. Rather than engaging in relationship, they worked with Satan, the impulse of evil that had entered Judas, and instructed him on how he could betray his teacher. The religious leaders were pleased; and in exchange for his role in crushing the source of their fear, they gave him money. Money is used in a destructive act, here at the beginning. Far too often we can relate to this.
This is a story that has both a beginning and an ending, a story where in the beginning the money story is one of monetizing fear and corruption, juxtaposed with the ending one in which a meal is shared, where Jesus gives wine, and bread, and there is enough for all. Jesus’ act in sharing around the table sets him apart. The rest partake as he awaits a new economy that he bids us to bring forth, remembering the kingdom of God that is yet to come.
What stories of our own do we remember as we begin? What money memories of abuse of power need to be brought out of the closets, dusted off, examined? How have we, as religious leaders, benefited from and engaged in this ourselves? How have these memories kept us hiding ourselves from our own power and potential? How have they left us without realizing our agency, individually and collectively?
As we remember, can we remember how Jesus has taken meals, fuel for our bodies, and divided them so there is enough for everyone? How has this been exhibited in our lives, individually and collectively? Jesus takes what is necessary for living, not for betrayal, and splits it up, and that act is what he asks them to remember until he is able to eat again—when the kingdom is achieved, when a new economy is brought forth.”
~Rev. Mieke Vandersall
By Hannah Garrity
Inspired by Exodus 16:1-18 (Manna in the desert)
We have enough… I have been contemplating this phrase for the last two years. We recently moved. In the process, we downsized. How could so many things that I remembered paying money for now become so irrelevant that I would choose to put them in the trash? My Honda Accord had to hold our bags, the inflatable bed, the two children, and me. Sitting on my front stoop, I slowly realized that I had to send everything else to the dump. I had two hours.
1-800-GOT-JUNK was scheduled out for days, so was College Hunks Moving Junk. Glen from Stevens City was available. For $50/load, he would take everything left in the house in the back of his blue pickup. Four loads. I had always contributed one trash can per week to the landfill. This was different. It was jarring. I began to feel lighter, but heavier at the same time. Why had I purchased all of these things? Enough is better than more, more, more.
In this painting, I have overlaid my empty hand with sets of circles. The guilloché-style patterning is used by treasuries all over the world to secure paper currency by making it too intricate to counterfeit. Here, guilloché circles represent my deeply personal relationship with the money that supports our lives. Some money falls past my hand, some into my hand. Moses advises the people: take only what you need, one omer each. In this piece, the idea of enough money is layered with the idea of enough sustenance through manna. The manna is portrayed by another set of circles, reminiscent of the wafers that are used in some traditions as Communion bread. Enough. Thank you, God, for providing enough, that I would take what I need.
by Lisle Gwynn Garrity
Inspired by Luke 22: 1-23 (The Last Supper & Judas’ Betrayal)
Peter and John go to prepare the Passover meal in the home of a generous stranger. Meanwhile, Judas satiates the desires of the chief priests and legal experts by cutting a deal with them. Many of us quickly condemn Judas’ betrayal as cowardly and weak. But we are privileged to know the end of this story, which makes judgment more enticing than empathy.
Judas did not know exactly how this narrative would play out. He knew what Jesus had told them about their fate, painting a vision of doom and terror: the temple demolished, nations at war, food shortages, epidemics, harassment and torture from the authorities, betrayal by loved ones, hatred from strangers, possible execution by the state (Luke 21:5-19). With the chief priests on the hunt and Jesus’ disruptive death on the horizon, things were escalating quickly. Judas had to act fast.
In the face of so much uncertainty and fear for the future, how might you behave? Judas wants the nightmare to end. He wants security, assurance, quick relief. He wants to go back to how things used to be. And so, evil enters into Judas’ story like ink spilled across the page.
But Jesus doesn’t let Judas’ story end here. Instead, he welcomes him to the table—a table where fear and doubt and difference have a place too. He offers him a meal where brokenness just makes more to pass around. He pours into a common cup that promises a new way forward.
Scarcity and fear and conflict will always threaten to dismember our story. But can we remember that God has a greater story to tell—a story that re-members us and makes us whole?
There is something about scripture that stirs us awake.
For when we hear of a deep love that made room for everyone at the table,
We remember that we are hungry.
And when we hear of manna raining down in the desert,
We remember that we are lost.
There is something about scripture that stirs us awake,
And it feels like hunger and it looks like hope.
So stir us awake, oh God.
Remind us that this story starts with love and ends with love.
We are hungry, which is to say, we are listening. Amen.
WRITING YOUR MONEY STORY
Use the following prompts to discern and record your money story. Throughout this exercise, notice what emotions emerge for you along the way. Take your time. Give yourself grace. Trust that your money story is valuable and redeemable. In completing this writing exercise, we hope you gain clarity, seek healing, and release what has been suppressed or hidden away.
Our narratives and beliefs shape our actions. Ultimately, we hope this exercise inspires you to give more faithfully of yourself and your resources to bring forth God’s money story of liberation and healing for all.
As you reflect on the series of questions for each prompt, offer any words, phrases, or memories that come to mind for you. Respond with full sentences, bullet points, doodles, or whatever feels most comfortable for you to capture your memories and ideas. Record your responses to the prompts in your personal journal, or on additional sheets of paper.
For each category, first reflect on the past. Consider your childhood, family of origin, adolescence, or any time in your early life that was formative in shaping you into who you are today. Then, move to the present. How has the past informed your perceptions and practices now? What have you changed or left behind? What scars do you hold? What gifts do you carry with you into your life now?
Begin with prayer:
Giving and loving God,
I am made of stories—
stories of heartbreak and triumph,
stories of love and tragedy,
stories of families who belong and families who break,
stories of loose ends and new beginnings.
I have absorbed stories that live in me like an internal compass,
and many that I do not wish to carry at all.
But your story remains steadfast: I am loved. I am enough. There is enough for all. Enough. Enough. Enough.
May this become my constant refrain.
May I believe this is who I am.
May I live trusting your holy design.
Enough. Enough. Enough. Amen.
Look to the past: Growing up, how would you describe your socioeconomic status or position? What was the economic environment of your neighborhood, your school, your local community (city, town, region)? How did this economic setting shape your perceptions and beliefs about money?
Reflect on the present: What words would you use to describe your socioeconomic status or position now? How would you describe the economic environment of your current neighborhood and local community (city, town, region)? How does your current economic setting inform your money story now?
Look to the past: Throughout your childhood and formative years, who were the leading characters of your money story? Who taught you—directly or indirectly—about finances and practices of giving? What did you learn or absorb from them? Who are the protagonists and antagonists of your money story—who gave you positive and healthy perceptions of money and who negatively impacted your money narrative?
Reflect on the present: Who are the leading characters of your money story now? Who do you look to as models, guides, or experts? Who in your community or in your faith tradition inspires you to give of your gifts and resources?
Look to the past: What are the key events or major turning points in your money story? How would you trace the narrative arc of your relationship with money throughout your life?
Reflect on the present: Name any recent events that are impacting your money story now. What events, challenges, or changes are impacting your financial behaviors and giving practices right now? conflict Look to the past: What financial challenges or limitations have you faced? Where is there tension or wrestling in your money story? Where has there been conflict between characters?
Reflect on the present: What money challenges do you wish to overcome and heal from? What habits do you want to retrain? Name any fears, baggage, scars, limiting beliefs, or shame you wish to release.
Look to the past: Throughout your childhood and formative years, describe the emotional tone of your perceptions of money. Perhaps your attitude toward money has changed throughout your life. Trace how the tone has fluctuated or shifted with the major turning points of your money story.
Reflect on the present: How would you describe the overall tone of your money story now? How would you describe your current attitude toward money?
Take a few moments to look over your notes. Pay attention to any patterns or motifs. Trace any overarching themes. Then, in one to three sentences, write the main takeaway or idea of your money story. Like a thesis statement, this tries to summarize the overriding philosophy or belief within your money story. If you want structure for your theme statement, you might begin your sentences with the following phrases, filling in the blanks however you see fit:
“I believe money___________________”
“I use money ______________________”
“I give money _____________________”
Reflecting on your money story
- Go through your notes and circle the parts of your money story that feel positive, healthy, and worth holding onto. How do these areas of your money story inspire your giving practices? How might they support others in their own stewardship practices? How do these areas help you practice financial wellness in your job, your family, your church?
- Go through your notes and write a star by the parts of your money story that hold tension or heaviness. How might you work to redeem and rewrite these areas of your money story? Name any faith practices or actions that might help you heal.
- Return to the “theme” section of your money story. Is this the money story you want to embody moving forward? What is missing that you wish to include in your story as it continues to unfold? In the space below, add onto or rewrite your money story with the one you want to live into.
Imagining God’ s money story
Now imagine and write God’s money story. Recall scriptures where Jesus teaches about money, power, and possessions. What characters or passages in the Bible teach us about faithful stewardship? What is the overall theme of God’s money story? In the space below, write (in a series of statements or a few short sentences) what you imagine is God’s money story.
As you walk through the weekly scriptures, art, poetry, and prompts that follow, keep in mind your money story and God’s money story. As you complete the journal, ask yourself: How is my money story changing or evolving? What am I learning about God’s money story?