As I walked into Target the other day, a young man asked me for gas money. His car was down the road, he said, and no one else would listen to him. I gave him a few dollars, he thanked me profusely, and the whole exchange felt wrong. As I walked away, I questioned the young man’s motives—does he really need gas? Am I really his last resort?...and my own—Am I giving because he is in need, or am I giving so that I can be left alone to shop?
Bill Golderer, convening pastor at Broad Street Ministries, once said that while he hasn’t solved the ethical quandary of this kind of situation, he finds that more and more often, the person asking for money is someone he knows, someone he has talked with at a Bible study or a meal. The relationship makes the question of money a different one, more particular and less dishonest on all sides.
Doing good, we are learning, is about promoting relationships across social divides. To find ways to use our resources to make good, life-giving things happen, to transform lives, we need to invest the time to build relationships. We need real, mutual relationships with our neighbors in the city, with our neighbors of other faiths, with our neighbors in nations near and far, so that when trouble comes, when a need arises on any side, we can act from genuine love for real, known people. This Saturday morning, May 31, from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the event called Doing Real Good, we will meet first to rekindle our own relationships within the church, to remember that we are one in our curiosity about what God is doing in our world and in our commitment to follow Jesus as he feeds the hungry and preaches good news to the poor. And we will rekindle as well relationships with mission partners near and far, and learn from them what they have seen God doing and what they feel led to do in response. Over the course of a few hours, we will pray and eat and study the Bible together, we will look at the array of efforts our church is currently making in our community, and we will dream and discern together about new adventures in outreach God might still have in store for us. We have so much to offer here at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian, so much potential to do good. Come on Saturday and help us maximize that potential. Help us build the relationships through which real good is accomplished.