What to do with Giving?

I was intrigued by this news across the newswire.

A struggling Baltimore parish received a surprising donation two Sundays ago, when a Maryland Lottery Cash Craze Crossword scratch-off arrived in the collection plate. The ticket, which was already scratched revealing the win, was discovered by the church’s pastor when tallying the day’s contributions. “I’m not too familiar with these tickets,” said the pastor. “I asked somebody if it was a winner.” The response was “It looks like it’s a winner to me.” With this affirmation, the 55-year-old church leader brought the ticket to Lottery Headquarters, where the largesse of an anonymous individual was confirmed.

“I have no idea who did this,” the pastor declared. “I really have no clue.” The church, which has been experiencing financial difficulties, will use the money toward operating expenses, but the pastor also wishes to give some back to the people. “We have a lot of people in need,” he said. “Hopefully, we can give some back, especially since this is the way we received it.”

Although this unexpected windfall is much-appreciated, the church still faces financial challenges. With that in mind, the smiling pastor said that he intends to buy $5 worth of Mega Millions tickets for Friday night’s drawing which has a jackpot of $312 million.

I know my United Methodist tradition has issues with lotteries. I remember when I was in Alabama, back in the 90’s, our church went against the lottery legislation then as well. That one never passed surprisingly.

The axe to grind against the lottery is one that says that they prey on those who are in poverty situations. Statistics can be bent around to prove this true or not true. In my anecdotal experiences it seems true to me that it is the case more than not. Maybe some folks playing the lottery may not be in abject poverty, but you generally do not see those who have solid financial positions playing games of chance where the odds of winning are astronomical.

With that in mind, is there an issue with taking lottery money if it is against the mission of the church? Obviously this pastor does not have a problem with it and will have his go at the scratch game sometime in the future at least once. Would it have been more of a story if the church refused $30k because of the method of it being attained from the people?

Is there another story here that has to do with someone capturing the imagination of the news giving away $30k to a church in the form of a lottery ticket?

Or is it that someone has bad luck and didn’t realize that they had a winner? I know I wouldn’t know, those things are just confusing to me.

 

 

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