Minor characters with a major impact: July 7 Lectionary Preview

May 20, 2019 by Lee Hinson-Hasty

Editor’s note: Each month, the Presbyterian Foundation asks a PC(USA) teaching elder to provide a lectionary preview for the coming month. The July preview is provided by Rev. Dr. Lee Hinson-Hasty, Senior Director, Theological Education Funds Development at the Presbyterian Foundation. He penned an overview for July, which you can read here. Below is a deeper look at July 7’s lectionary, which centers on 2 Kings 5:1-14.

 Don’t be distracted by one who appears to be the most powerful in this story, Naaman. The chapter starts with his name and a resume of his greatness and victories on the battlefield. No, it is the unnamed one, a young captive girl from Israel, who served as Naaman’s wife. She is the one who offers a solution to Naaman’s priority problem, leprosy: the prophet of God, Elisha. As a seemingly minor character, this unnamed wife of Naaman drives this narrative directed toward healing.

Too often stewardship leaders focus on the seemingly wealthy and powerful with long resumes and lots of headlines in their past without noticing and taking good care of those in the background that remain generous and who offer the best clues and questions for a more faithful future.

Oseola McCarty comes to mind.

An African-American woman, Ms. McCarty went to work before she was a teenager to help her family survive. In August of 1995, Ms. McCarty’s $150,000 unsolicited gift to the University of Southern Mississippi made national news and garnered a matching gift of the same size to start a scholarship program for black students from southern Mississippi. She gave away almost everything she had, and no one saw it coming in this barely 5-foot-tall, 100-pound mountain of a woman.

Minor characters in our view are often the ones with a major impact. I wonder who will be next?

Maybe a child who hears Oseola McCarty’s story for the first time?

And it’s not just the larger donations by seemingly sideline characters, like Oseola McCarty, that we should pay attention. Look at the impact of small donations often garnered from online gifts that add up fast.

Maybe you heard about First United Presbyterian Church in Tarentum, PA that set out to raise $2,000 on Giving Tuesday in 2017? $15,000 was given collectively through smaller gifts that added up fast! Again, what we might think of as minor characters made a major impact.

Who are some minor characters making a large impact in your community?