Our fundamental beliefs about how the world is structured and the principles which underpin it inform how we interact in it. Walter Brueggermann, scholar and theologian, posits that our interactions with resources, need, consumption and stewardship are determined by our belief in one of two key positions: the liturgy of abundance or the myth of scarcity. Either we believe that what God has created is good, that He has set in motion principles of abundance which He sustains with his hand, and that the bountiful creation he placed into being has enough for all of us. Or we believe that there is a insidious famine in resources, that there is not enough to go around, and that we must hold on to as much as we can against that day when it all runs out. The choices that face us are no different than those facing the Israelites as the Manna fell each day. Those who believed in a God who had created and sustained an economy of enough, took only as much as they needed each day and those who had little did not have too little and those who had much did not have too much. But those who believed in an economy of scarcity took more than they needed and hoarded it till the next day, when maggots and rot spoilt it. They, like Pharaoh before them, said, “There’s not enough; let’s get everything.”
Can we, like Jesus, imagine a new reality, an economy of enough, a liturgy of abundance? “When the disciples, charged with feeding the hungry crowd [as told in Mark’s gospel] found a child with five loaves and two fishes, Jesus took, blessed ,broke and gave the bread. These are the four decisive verbs of our sacramental existence. ” But our taking, blessing, breaking and giving – our sacramental expression of our fundamental belief in “creation infused with the Creator’s generosity” and our call to express this same open-handedness to our neighbors – cannot exist if we continue to believe in the myth of scarcity. With that all we can do is hoard, profane, accumulate and keep to ourselves the richness of God’s abundance.
[For some more thoughts on this, take a read of this post by Shane Claiborne titled ‘The Theology of Enough’]