What Dreams May Come
Ask a dozen people, “What is money?” If you only get a dozen answers, congratulations. Among the responses you’ll hear are things like, “Money is what we use to secure needed or wanted goods or services.” Very true. But you might also hear less concrete approaches like, “Money is how a culture expresses what it values, both in the amount one can earn for what one does and the amount one spends on what one needs or wants.” It’s easy to get on board with that one I think. But this one is the most true, “What’s money? Oh, that’s easy. It’s the hardest thing for people to talk about.”
In my experience, people much more quickly divulge family secrets, intimate experiences, and any other range of private matters more readily than they will talk about money. When I work with couples considering marriage, one of the most important things I do is to be sure that each partner knows exactly where the other one stands financially and their philosophy toward spending money or managing debt. I never share details of any pastoral care visit, but please know that these money discussions, even among people planning to spend their entire lives together, are often the most difficult. And there is a reason for that.
As a people, as individuals, we tend to have a hard time asking for what we want or what we need. So when we are handling something that we understand both concretely and abstractly to be so intimately tied to meeting our wants and needs—something like money—we may struggle. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
I invite you to do something now. Just take a minute and grab a piece of paper and something to write with. We’re going to do a little relationship pastoral care between each of us and the church. Write down the one thing that stands out in each of these categories:
1) greatest need met by the church;
2) greatest want met by the church;
3) greatest unmet need by the church; and
4) greatest unmet want by the church.
Got ‘em? OK. Now consider this. The first two things are gifts that scores of other people once dreamed together might be possible for you…and now you have them! And the second two things are gifts we get the chance to dream about working together to give.
In the course of the next few weeks we will start to have discussions about pledging and about the annual budget. These discussions are part of the way we choose to continue our shared life as a family of faith. But like couples I speak with, people choosing to start a new family together, we can’t lose sight of the fact that these discussions, at their heart, are about meeting one another’s needs and wants. Yes, being clear about our expectations of this community, while also taking responsibility for our part in meeting those expectations, is part of what we will be doing. But really, and you are holding the proof in your hand, these coming weeks are perhaps even more accurately about celebrating the ways that dreams have come true here and how we might make more dreams come true with every passing day.
And may it ever be so,
Rev. T. J.