Thursday, May 7, 2009

What would you do if you had $5?

On Sunday, May 3rd, the Harrington's attended Emmaus Road Community Church as normal. They sang worship songs, listend to a teaching on Social Justice, took Communion and left an offering at the back of the Sanctuary located in Laramie's Civic Center. What was different this Sunday, was that the Harrington's, and other church attendees, left the church carrying an envelope. It is this envelope that leads to the question "What would you do if you had $5?" and the following interview with Melissa Harrington.

Harrington Times: Can you explain why attendees of Emaus Road Community Church left the service with envelopes?

Melissa Harrington: The envelopes were given to couples, families and singles as a point of application to the days lesson. Member of the teaching team, Brad Eakins, walked the congregation through James 1:27 - 2:12 which begins "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Each envelope held either $5, $10, $20, or $50 for the members of the congregation to use as a blessing within our immediate to world community. It was a day when, instead of being expected to give your money to the church, the church gave you money and expected you to bless others.

HT: What amount was in your envelope?

MH: $5

HT: How did you react to this giving of envelopes and what you found in yours?

MH: About the envelope, I was thrilled and impressed. I think Jesus would be much more impressed to watch the Body of Christ give money away during worship services as opposed to collect it for bigger buildings. As far as our $5 be honest, I was a little bummed out! Mike and I practice similar giving habits, always willing to give to someone who may be in need. We've handed stranded travellers $50 or train-hoppers a $20, so a $5 bill seemed, well a bit disappointing, for me anyway, this in no way reflects Mike's perspective. Now, let me clarify, Brad suggested that we team together, pool our resources etc. I also knew, that Mike and I would be willing to "supplement" our $5. Anyhow, we chatted with our neighbors, one of whom made the reccommendation to buy five $1 reusable bags, fill them with food then donate them to the Soup Kitchen. That got me to think that maybe there was something worthwhile to use our $5 for.

HT: What will you do with your $5?

MH: We have not come to a final decision, but I have put some extensive thought into some possibilities. We have a couple friends who are need of some funds for some worlds missions - we plan to offer them a larger offering for support, but also to tack on $5 encouraging them to use that money to bless someone or many people in parts of the world where $5 can really stretch in significant ways. I also suggested to Mike, that perhaps we'll take a $5 challenge. Each of us being equipped with some multiple of $5 such as $25 or $50. With that money we would each seek to bless people $5 at a time. Some thoughts I've had include: Paying for the coffee of a customer behind me in a line, Leaving a $5 bonus tip or tip for something small like a cup of coffee or donut, or placing my $5 in a donation can trusting that it will serve it's purpose without my face attached.

HT: Do you have any comments or thoughts you'd like to leave our readers?

MH: Initially, I really thought it would be best to combine our money or supplement the $5 with other monies we had set aside for similar purposes. However, after spending some time reflecting on the purpose of the envelopes and of our God, I realized that it was ridiculous to assume that God can't work in $5! Who am I to think that only large sums of money make a difference? What better way to see the power of God and significance of "small" offerings in the lives of people? I found myself facing the issue of pride - believing that we already had a beautiful habit of this in our lives, yet we've overlooked the power of blessings in smaller packagaes. What I really want of readers however, is their action. I would love for friends and family to join us in answering the question "What would you do if you had $5?" I hope to see posts and comments that reflect great ideas that readers may have and eventually ways they have chose to spend their $5 for the good of others.


Micah and SaraJane said...

I appreciate your honesty and your willingness to challenge others in their thinking as well. I pray that you experience the power of $5.00 and have a journal full of experiences to share in the future.

j-mart said...

Go to restaurant, and order a water. Strike up a conversation with the waiter/waitress. Then leave him/her a $5 dollar tip. Be sure to call out God's destiny in him/her, and maybe pray with him/her.

Marsosudiro said...

Economist are supposed to look at overall "utility", and not just a dollars. But too often they only look at dollars.

This $5 is a gift many times over -- for the actual goods or services that you buy, plus the way you change as you think about how to spend it, plus the joy of the recipient, plus the way they change if they know it was a gift, plus the joy I have of thinking of you in Wyoming, plus the way I change as a result of your experiment. Hooray for the giving, then!

As for what I'd do with the $5? I'd probably think about it for a while (like you, dear Harringtons), then I'd probably try to do something completely different from what I do when I give away $5 that I've earned in a normal way.

In the tradition of praying for people who have wronged me or a loved one, I might give the $5 to someone whom I don't really like. Or I might get really radical and give the $5 to some cause I don't agree with, on the off chance that I'm wrong -- or just to see what happens from giving a gift to a cause I disagree with. Or maybe I'd trust the gods and the wind, and tape the bill loosely to my car before a drive around town. It would blow off somewhere, and someone would (probably) find it.

Or maybe I'd think of someone who I think needs a change in perspective, and send them the $5 with your story about sending out the blessing.

After 9/11, a CEO in Durham NC (my home town) gave all of his full time employees $2,000 to do with as they wished. His thought was that the world could use an injection of good and faith right then, and he figured that his staff could best decide how to make that happen -- whether in paying their own bills, supporting a charity, or whatever. He didn't ask people to tell him what they did with the money. That was cool.

Peace and good to you up there in Wyoming!

Marsosudiro said...

p.s. Oh crack -- I just realized that I left an "s" off of "economists". Can I use my $5 to buy an "s"? :-)

Anonymous said...

This seems like an interesting adventure and I look forward to finding out what you guys choose to do with it!


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