Paul wrote to the Ephesians:
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.
(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Ephesians 3:20-21 – May 22, 2012)
Although this is not the end of the the Letter to the Church in Ephesus, it sure sounds like it ought to be! Maybe that’s why the Book of Common Prayer uses it as one of the possible endings to the Daily Offices of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer. The others are 2 Corinthians 13:14 and Romans 15:13; the first reminds us of God’s grace, love, and fellowship; the second, of hope, joy, and peace. This one reminds us of God’s abundance. God can do “abundantly far more” than we can conceive. The Prayer Book version is practically hyperbolic: “Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more that we can ask or imagine.” (BCP 1979, p. 126) ~ This is a profoundly countercultural message! In a world controlled by bankers, insurers, and oil companies, we have been sold a story of scarcity that competes with and, in the popular secular imagination, has prevailed over the gospel of abundance. Yes, some resources (such as fossil fuels) are limited, so they have to properly used and preserved. But alternatives are not – science and agriculture have proven that there are many sources of fuel which are renewable. Because human culture has taken the irreplaceable resources (coal, oil, metals) as the paradigm for all economies, rather than sustainable and renewable resources (crops, herds, rapid-growth woods) we buy into the scarcity model even though these alternatives demonstrating God’s provident abundance are all around us. ~ What can we do to change this? How can the church of Christ, which has the gospel of plenty to preach, foster a paradigm shift from a distrustful economy of scarcity to generous economy of abundance? It seems to me that we don’t even try. Once a year, most church congregations beg their members for annual pledges and then budget on the scarcity model, denying even our most fundamental teaching of reliance on God. I wonder what would happen if we truly believed and truly lived the abundance Scripture assures us is there. I really do wonder . . . because abundance is wonderful!