Greg's Weekly Word: "abundance"
I was always taught you should never use "a lot" in writing. And yet I still do...a lot. (See what I did there?) I was told it's lazy. Because there are so many other words to describe much or a great deal or a large quantity. And one of the Bible's favorites is abundance.
In the New Revised Standard Version's translation of the Bible, the words abundant and abundance show up 143 times. (That's a lot.) And Jesus says,
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
But abundance is more than just "a lot." Because abundance doesn't only describe quantity.
The word abundance comes from a Latin word for "overflow," the root of which refers to a rising wave. Which makes perfect sense.
After all, you can't hold a wave. If capture a wave in a bucket, it would cease to be a wave. At that point, it's just water. By definition, a wave is moving and flowing. You can't catch it...
Unless you're on a surfboard.
To "catch a wave" is not to capture or contain it, but rather to allow it to carry you along. Because a wave is not only defined by how large it is, but how it moves and flows, and what it does.
Sure, we can talk about the amplitude and height of a wave, or even measure the energy it carries in its movement and the power with which it breaks. But more important is how children play in it...or how it shapes the landscape...or the beauty it creates as light refracts within it...or the way dolphins swim through it...or the way it laps at our feet...or the soothing sound it creates.
When Jesus speaks of abundant life (and when we talk about abundance as people of faith), it doesn't just refer to how much, but how: the qualities of that abundance - how it carries us...how it shapes us...how it moves and flows around us and through us...how the abundance we experience creates beauty and peace and a place and a benefit, not only for us, but for many.
Sometimes it can be hard to see the abundance all around us. We often look to what we don't have, focusing on our deficits rather than our assets. But I'm wondering if we need to train our eyes (and our minds and our hearts!) to recognize the abundance that is all around us. The poet Wendell Berry spoke of "the ancient faith" - that
...what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.
Over the next five weeks in worship, we will be focusing on abundance - how what we need is already all around us, and how that abundance can carry us and move us and flow through us. I hope to see you soon!
Worship Series - An Abundance...
May 30th - "...of Courage"
June 6 - "...of Family"
June 13th - "...of Growth"
June 20th - "...of Gratitude"
June 27th - "...of Weakness"