The Difference Between $2 and a Million

“Nothing between my soul and my Savior …”

She does that every now and then … she sees me and asks for a couple dollars so she can get a cup of coffee. It doesn’t take much to make a person feel warm, included, part of the group.

Perhaps you have seen that Youtube video with regard to the power of words to make a difference between a few coins and tens of dollars on the street. (There have been accusations of plagiarism leveled against that video. It copies a short film called The Story of a Sign. The film won the “Best Short Film” award at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.)

“Change Your Words; Change Your World.” So proclaims the Youtube video.

“Nothing between the worldly pleasure; habits of life, though harmless they seem… “

While there are folks downtown who would like to have a couple bucks for a coffee, over at First United Methodist Church we are looking at what it might cost to do a kitchen upgrade. To do it right, so we have been told, we would need about two hundred thousand dollars. It’s amazing what a few zeros can do to a number.

“…must not my heart from him ever sever; he is my all, there’s nothing between.”

I’ve seen her on the city bus. When she gets on she always knows the driver by name. And it seems half the people on the bus know who she is. In fact, as I write this, it occurs to me I may have written about her before; but some people don’t just have a story; they are a story! She has a way of disarming people because her filter for what is publicly appropriate conversation and what might be better saved for more private settings is a bit skewed.

She comes at you like a rock falling off a cliff … or a church. We’ve been told at First UMC Burlington that in order to take care of all the fall hazards – a term I am becoming more intimately aware of as the years go by – that is, the stones that might fall out of the wall or the lumber that might fall off the dormers and come hurtling to the ground – we would probably need about two million dollars. It’s just one more zero.

“Nothing between, e’en many hard trials, though the whole world against me convene …”

I see her on Church Street. She might wander into a coffee shop. Often she can be found out in front of the Burlington Town Center – and speaking of twos and millions, did you see that Burlington is beginning the process of looking at a $200 Million makeover to the downtown mall? It’s only two more zeros, but that’s a lot of coffee!

“Guess what,” she says as she cocks her head back. “In a few days I’m gonna be six years sober. What d’ya think about that?”

“I think that’s fantastic!” I tell her.

“And I moved to a new place yesterday,” she said. “Do you have a couple dollars so I can get a coffee?”

“…watching with prayer and much self-denial, I’ll triumph at last, there’s nothing between.”

It’s quite amazing, really; the dreams of those who just want a cup of coffee, those who want a new kitchen, those who want a safe church and those who want a downtown upgrade are not really all that different. The only thing that separates them are zeros. That means that, essentially, there’s nothing between the cup of coffee and the makeover at the mall!

What a difference there is between seeking one’s “daily bread” and trying to ensure one can make bread – literally and figuratively – for the next 50 years. The amounts are so vastly different; but the basic human desire is the same.

“Nothing preventing the least of his favor; keep the way clear! Let nothing between.’

Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.