The Cost of Sharing

Today, as Lent and Rice & Beans Month wind toward a close, we have the third and final installment in our 2016 guest writer series. This week’s focus is on the theme of Sharing, particularly poignant as we consider that Christ’s death and resurrection make it possible for us to share all the richness of a new life rooted in God’s love. On this timely topic, we welcome pastor Bob Brown from Stahl Mennonite Church in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? (Isaiah 58:6-7 NIV)

As the parent of a three-year-old, I have learned a lot about sharing in the last year or so.

When we say to kids, “Share your toys,” or, “Share your snack,” often the reality is that they are being asked to give up something they want. Which made me think… do I share?  Do I share my time, my food, my money with others? Or am I just as reluctant as a toddler to let someone else have what I want, when I want it?

It really made me consider the whole process. One of the most helpful insights I had was that I need to make sure that “share” means more than just “give up something you like.”

It is easy to think about sharing primarily in the way it costs us – but we don’t often think about how sharing blesses others. When I was talking to our church about sharing our resources, like power tools and kitchen equipment, one of the first responses was, “What if they break it?” When we worry about how we will be inconvenienced, it can stop the conversation about sharing before it even starts.

At home, we started helping our son to notice when sharing is something from which he benefits. When he wants some of our food, he can ask us, and we then “share” our meal with him. There is joy in giving something up for another, and joy in receiving what someone shares with you.

Sharing is a foundation of our faith, and Rice & Beans Month invites us back to that foundation. It allows us to share our lives together, and share our resources with those who have less than us.

At our church, Stahl Mennonite, we share a potluck on Monday nights in March, and we share recipes. We try new and delicious food, and because we are skipping the filet mignon, we are able to put food in mouths that need it way more than ours. Even sharing the money doesn’t really “cost” us – we’ve set it aside over the course of the fast. Ultimately, we share both experiences and financial resources, and much of that sharing doesn’t cost us anything, we are only blessed by it.

Bob Brown has served as the pastor of Stahl Mennonite Church since 2010. This church community was founded in 1882, building a legacy of sharing life and seeking Jesus together for over 130 years. The Horn family from Portland, Oregon, shared the idea of Rice & Beans Month with Stahl Mennonite when they relocated temporarily to Johnstown, and the event has been carried on at Stahl ever since.