A Message for You

We are the bridge 

by PASTOR ROBERT ECKERT
Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church

Several years ago, I attended a seminar to learn the basics of marketing. The instructor focused on what he called “the four Ps of marketing.” With tongue firmly in cheek he listed them for us: product, price, promotion… and distribution. What the four points boiled down to is that successful marketing requires an item or service to market, an intelligent evaluation of how much it must and can sell for, a plan for letting people know it’s available for purchase, and the means to get it into the hands of consumers.

It was this teacher’s contention that the fourth “P” was where many businesses fall short. They know their product, they know how much they can get for it, and they pour tons of resources into promoting it, but in the end they shortchange the delivery system.

Poor distribution is usually the culprit when basic human needs go unfulfilled in this world. Our creator is the source of all products, the price is free, and you can’t get any better promotion than the teachings of the world’s great traditions. Consider these words from the Qur’an, for example: “If you put your whole trust in Allah, as you ought, He most certainly will satisfy your needs.” Or the advice of Jesus from the Christian testament: “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat, drink, or wear?’ But seek first his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” And predating them both, Hebrew scripture invites the people of God’s creation to test God’s faithfulness and “see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

In our world, however, the free gifts of God that are announced in sacred text after sacred text are too often lost in transit, never arriving to the hands of many who need them—and that’s on us. Our Creator produces, prices, and promotes but has chosen to leave it to us to distribute. Almsgiving, feeding the hungry, caring for “widows and orphans”—these are among the rubrics that are common to all faiths. It is we who are called to be the bridge that connects what God provides with what people need.

In my faith tradition, we tell the story of a day when several thousand people had gathered around Jesus in a remote place. The disciples of Jesus’ “inner circle” became concerned over what the people would eat as the day wore on. Jesus said, “You feed them.”

Today is a good day to consider our neighbors, our community and our world, and find a way to deliver the blessings of God where they are needed most.

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