“‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.’” Leviticus 23:22(NIV)
Some may have wondered at the odd sounding name of this pastor’s column – “Gleanings – Thoughts From Around the Edges.” It derives from the bible passage above, in which God commands the owners of the fields to leave something behind so that all God’s people might be fed. I chose the name for my column, with the idea that I might address thoughts and needs that might have been overlooked, or not often thought of – kind of the gleanings of our human interests.
As I ponder this passage, particularly in light of so many natural disasters that have befallen us recently, my mind goes all the way back to the original intent – to feed or care for God’s people.
We are God’s people. And so are the people emerging from the rubble from the two recent earthquakes in Mexico. So are the people in Puerto Rico that was recently ravaged by the two hurricanes, so are the people in Texas and along the Gulf Coast who are struggling to put their lives back together after Hurricane Harvey, as well as the people in Florida who are trying recover from Hurricane Irma. Not to mention many other people around this globe who have been left homeless, and starving, from storms, fires, wars, and violence. We are all God’s people, regardless of race, nationality, religion, or other life circumstances. We are all God’s people, and as such, those who are blessed and rest secure are called upon to set aside our own “gleanings” in order to help those less fortunate than us.
So how can we help? What do we do with the “gleanings” of our own fields, as we respond to so many disasters? And how do we do it in a way that helps best, and avoids those agencies whose “charity” is questionable?
My best suggestion is to work through our own United Methodist Church. Our agency, UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) works around the world, and within the U.S., helping in disaster recovery – through donations, supplies, volunteers, and more. 100% of each donated dollar goes directly to the relief efforts. UMCOR staff and administration are funded through a yearly special offering, and as such, do not depend on your disaster donations. For more info, contact your pastor, or look up UMCOR at www.umcor.org.
Your help is greatly needed, and will bless people, in ways you may never fully imagine. God’s people are blessed when we help God’s people.
And may God continue to richly bless you, my sisters and brothers.