Contributed by Angie Larson
Warm up Question: What would you trade for one red paperclip? Do you think someone would actually trade for one red paperclip?
Kyle McDonald of Belcarra, British Columbia, Canada successfully traded one red paperclip up to a house within one year. Kyle, tired of delivering pizzas, planting trees, and paying rent, got the idea from a childhood game called ‘bigger and better’.
He announced his quest to trade up on Craigslist. Quickly after, he traded his paperclip for a pen shaped like a fish. He traveled to Vancouver, BC, to make the trade in person. From there he went to Seattle, Washington, to trade the fish pen for a handmade door knob.
The trades continued with everything from a generator to an afternoon with Alice Cooper to a snow globe. Finally, one year from when his quest began, the chamber of commerce of Kipling, Saskatchewan, traded him for a two-story farm house.
On the day he received his house, he proposed to his girlfriend. Now married, they live in the house in Kipling in front of which the city has placed the Guinness Book of World Record’s largest red paperclip. Kyle has now written a book called One Red Paperclip and is working in sales.
- What would your initial reaction be if you were one of the first to read Kyle’s proposal on Craigslist?
- Do you think that any small thing could be compounded to create a big thing? Would it work with ideas? How?
- Do you think that this experiment could work for helping other people? If so, how would you do it?
Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, July 26, 2009.
(Text links are to oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year B at Lectionary Readings.)
For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.
In the Gospel text Jesus takes five loaves of bread and two fish and performs a miracle to make it into enough to feed five thousand people. The text states that he knew it would be enough. In the 2 Kings text, Elisha also knows that there will be enough food. There is not only enough for many people, but much left over.
We live in a world that becomes consumed and obsessed with scarcity. We fear we won’t have enough, that we won’t make our goal, and that we won’t be enough. The economic situation of this year creates fear, despair, and worry. Our surroundings tell us that we live in scarcity. God tells us the opposite; we live in a world that is abundant. We can give knowing that God will take care of us and our families, just as Christ knew that there would be enough to care for the coming masses. It takes an amazing amount of trust.
There is enough. You are enough. Where you are weak, God is strong. It is in weakness and scarcity when God can come in and fill in the blanks. God makes things bigger and better and whole.
Nelson Mandela summarizes the human battle between scarcity and abundance beautifully:
“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some; it is in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
- Do you live in a world of scarcity or abundance? Explain.
- How do you tend to react during times of stress and need?
- When in your life do you forget that you are blessed by God? How do you respond when that happens?
Play the game Bigger and Better to benefit a social ministry. Challenge the group to trade a small item for a larger one. It could be anything, from a paperclip to an egg. Ask them to go door-to- door to get a larger item, anything larger in size. Instruct the group to then trade that item for a larger item. See how big the items can get. You’ll be surprised with what you can get! Contact Lutheran Social Services for refugee programs or a homeless shelter needing the items you have to donate.
Want to see how much more you can maximize the items you’ve received? Use the final items as part of a congregational silent auction. Use the proceeds for a social ministry.
Blessed Savior, we thank you for blessing us in everyway. We know that you are continually working in our lives to remind us that you are in control. Please use us as you desire to let our light, and your light, shine through our actions. In your wonderful name, we pray. Amen.