Sedbergh's Poor Box

The Parish Church of Sedbergh is a rather solid affair. Although it was built in the period of perpendicular style of gothic, it appears rather older, as though the lighter, more elevated tastes of the south were too slow, or timid, to reach these wilder northlands. Nevertheless, it is internally rather airy and full of historical curiosities. To its rear is an old, oaken box attached to the wall. In it, one may deposit coins for the use of the parish’s poor. This Poor Box is dated 1633 and comes from a time when the state’s care of the poorest folk was minimal. How much was given this way, one cannot tell, but many people then, as now, attributed poverty to idleness or want of ambition.

God has not distributed resources equally over the planet. Some countries have gigantic reserves of oil, gold and diamonds. Likewise, some people have millions stashed in bank accounts or under mattresses, while others live from hand to mouth. We might dismiss this as a fact of life, but the Lord expects those with much to help those with little. He instructed Moses in Deuteronomy 24:21-

When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore, I command you to do this thing. (New King James Version)

That old poor box has stood by that wall these past four centuries, a reminder that God expects us to care for those who cannot care for themselves.