We were in Raleigh recently – Linda was there to exchange something at Macy’s and I was there to make our obligatory Costco run. As we prepared to head back east, she asked if I was thirsty. Well, I’m always thirsty, so she steered the car through a McDonalds where you can get any size drink for $1. The problem was that actually you can get any size drink for $1.07. The further problem was that I had a couple of twenties, a ten, a five, and an assortment of ones but no coin. And there was a sign pleading for us to pay with exact change. Do you think there is really a shortage of coins?, she asked. Makes no sense to me, I replied to which she countered, I understand that it is because the pandemic has driven people to online buying so that we are not paying with coins as much.
Ever the thinker, I said, Perhaps, but then again, if we are not dealing in cash as much, we aren’t being given change, right? Well, now we were at the window, Linda apologized while she handed the cashier my three dollar bills, and a moment later got one of the bills handed back to her, thus verifying that the coin shortage is a real thing. Our study of the matter lasted past Knightdale, and I would report it to you except I am imagining that you are all giving thanks you were not imprisoned in our car that evening suffocating with boredom. (Subsequently, I have discovered that early in the pandemic, the U S Mint was producing fewer coins because of worker shortages, but I verified that Linda, as usual, was correct, about the cause of the continuing shortage – we are not circulating coins though I still would argue that businesses aren’t circulating them back.)
Well, that set me to thinking about other shortages. Before our first storm of the year, I paid more than $7 for one of the last two cartons of eggs in Harris Teeter – organic and free-range as it were – an extravagance necessitated by broad supply line problems and exacerbated by weather conditions. There were several other cartons in the refrigerator section, but they all had broken eggs in them. My guess is that every mom in Wilson was planning a special breakfast for the impending snow day.
Any of you who do the shopping for your families have seen it. Brisket was over $5 a pound at Costco—untrimmed brisket which is like $10 per pound when you cut/cook away all the fat and gristle. Gatorade has been sparse on the shelves in the past year or so. I have been able to get it, but a couple of times I have had to drink blue instead of red. Could not find any decent lettuce a couple of weeks ago. Elaine asked me to fetch her some Lactaid vanilla ice cream, but chocolate was all they had. Yes, I have lost some weight, but the truth is that it has been an accident.
Okay, put the trivialities aside and let’s look at a more serious shortage. I give platelets regularly, and I have been getting a constant barrage of messages from the Red Cross about the shortages of blood products. The day after I donate, I get a message pleading with me to donate again. I can’t, I want to say, for another six days. I assumed that they were just doing what they do, but then I discovered that this blood shortage is more than real – elective surgeries are being postponed because blood donations have dropped more than 10% since March of 2020. Before that, the need for blood products had been rising 6% annually while donations were going up 3%.
But here is the hopeful piece in all this. In running through a couple of articles to check my stats, I ran across one person’s reflection about the shortage of blood products who observed that the good thing is that it is in our power to fix. Of course, it is. We are not short of A+ blood, plasma, or platelets because the blood volume of the average American has dropped from 10 pints to 6 in the past couple of years. No, this is a shortage that is eminently solvable. I don’t know about all of the shortages I have mentioned, but my guess is that many may fall into that category.
And theologically, our proclamation ought to be one of abundance. Is that not the whole point of Jesus feeding the multitude? The disciples saw the situation as a problem – we don’t have enough. Jesus said we have plenty if we just come together and share. The possibilities are endless. Let us remember that the next time we feel like running around like Chicken Little. No, the sky is not falling. Together, we’ve got this.
But here is one more thing you can do. The next time one of you is at Triangle Town Mall, go through Mickey-D’s and give them 14 cents. Tell them your preacher is worthless.
Blessings and Peace,
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These thoughts and reflections come from our Senior Minister, Minister of Music and Board Chair. We hope that they provide both challenge and inspiration for your spiritual life.