The Church: Better than a Lottery Ticket?

by Jacob Juncker

Now that the twins are getting older, I’m finding time to get out and do a bit more.  My family has a nice big garden this year that the weeds have not overtaken.  I’ve even started jogging again.  With any luck, my wife and I will be running in the Hartford Marathon in October.

I was out running early this morning, when I stumbled upon a wadded up lottery ticket.  I thought about turning back and taking a picture of it, but, I had only run seven miles and I had three more to go.  My legs felt like jelly.  I wasn’t turning back.  Nevertheless, I thought a lot about that ticket over the next three miles.

People who by lottery tickets must be hopeful.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve bought one over a lifetime or one every week.  There is a bit of excitement and hope that this ticket might be the winner that will make you rich (or at least pay off a little debt).  The Connecticut state lottery sold $1,143,973,000 worth of tickets and games in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015.  People spent $1.14 billion dollars on the hope that there lives would be made better by that $2 lottery ticket.

And so that got me thinking: does the church offer more hope than the lottery?  Are we as effective as the lottery at sharing our hope?  How well do we show people that their $2 investment whether it be once or weekly goes to make a hope-full difference in the life of the donor and the world?

In my congregation, a $2 donation can provide a meal to a member of our community.  A monthly $2 donation, can buy quarterly Sunday School material for middle-schoolers.  And, two donors giving a weekly donation of $2 is enough to buy our membership into the Gemme Moran program which provides a half ton of food each week that is distributed through our Community Center.

I serve a congregation that lives in the shadow of two casinos.  We are part of a town which boasts an abnormally high poverty and working poor population.  In fact, moving out of my town to any of the neighboring cities would statistically boost my income by over $20,000 a year (which is a lot when the median income in your town is only about $49,000). And yet, I wonder: does the Church (regardless of denomination) provide more hope than a lottery ticket?  Does the Church so proclaim the Good News that hope is offered to rich and poor, young and old, so that the world is transformed?  Do we encourage people in our communities to invest their time, talent, and resources in that hope? such that God’s reign of Love might be established on earth as it is in heaven? in order that everyone’s lives might be better?  I hope so, cause 2 hours of volunteering and/or $2 whether given once, monthly, weekly (shoot even daily) sure can go a long way in making a difference in my community and around the world.