We face a moral crisis in our State of California and it has to do with money. Jesus talked about “money”, financial resources a lot. Jesus talked about caring for the “least of these” a lot. Among other things he was a social prophet, firmly rooted in the prophetic tradition of his religion. Jesus spoke of welcoming children.
We are currently turning our backs on the children of our State, who were given the constitutional right in 1875 to a free quality public education. When he encouraged Congress to pass the amendment, Ulysses S. Grant claimed that “free public education lay at the root of the nation’s liberty.” (Theresa Perry et. al. ed., Quality Education As a Constitutional Right) Children can’t vote so who will hold the adults in the State of California accountable for providing what our own Constitution mandates?
Adam Smith, sometimes referred to as the father of classical economics wrote, “The disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful and to despise or at least, to neglect, persons of poor and mean condition…is…the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.” (Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments)
I agree with Smith and his words, over 200 years ago speak to the moral crisis we currently face. We have allowed the corruption of our moral sentiments when we refuse to invest in a future we share with children who require quality education to take on the mantle of leadership and work. I agree with Jesus that we must welcome the children and when we make a place for children, we make a place for Jesus.
No one enjoys paying taxes, but perhaps we need to relearn what it means as citizens to invest in our common life. Vic Edwards was a member of our congregation who helped build the church in which we worship and from which we serve. He was a man of means. One year, his accountant received a check from Vic and wife, Edith, for their taxes, before the accountant told them what they owed. The amount was in excess of what they would have owed. Vic and had sat down and figured out the ways in which they benefit from the taxes they pay and figured they needed to pay for all they believed they received, not just personally, but how they benefited from having children educated, seniors cared for, etc.
Vic and Edith Edwards knew they were helping to build a church for the future and a society for the future. I hope and pray that we will bear witness to this legacy of Christian stewardship, not for our sake, but for the sake of a future in which we share, in church AND society.