Sermon Ideas 4U - Archived Sermons -- AFTER Advent 2002
This page is in honour of the 'pesky, perpetual, predictable and persistent return of the Sabbath'!!!!!!!!!!!!!
July 31 - Pentecost Season -
Hosea 11: 1-11
Luke 12: 13-21
Thank you for coming today - to gather in community, to sing some hymns, to get your spiritual fix for the week, or in this instance, for the next month. A special thank you to Rebecca for sharing her talents with us while Juanita is on vacation. The next four Sundays we will not be worshipping as a community but I would encourage you to take some time and reflect on all of God’s blessings and seek to be a source of blessing to at least one other person during these dog days of summer. It might be as simple as sharing a glass of lemonade in the shade or taking someone else’s grandchildren to the beach along with yours.
As for me, I will be taking several shift selling ice cream and candy to Berwick campers with a sweet tooth! I do tell the children to remember to brush their teeth! (Seriously, I do!) Oh yes, and I will be attending daily Bible study, theology for today and worship for the week. Then it’s off to PEI to see my mom, friends and family and to have some R&R.
It was reported in one of those supermarket magazines, so it has to be true. Right? Some years ago, a couple was in divorce court and they could not come to agreeable terms on their joint collection of Beanie Babies. So there they were, in court, in front of a tired and frustrated judge, with the power to say, “One for you and one for you.” These were grownups! In case you didn’t know, few people collect these anymore!
If there is anything worse than an acrimonious divorce, it’s a fight over the division of family property after a death. It usually goes something like this: a child who feels he or she has been shortchanged contests the will, and the estate ends up in court. Or, there is no will! Or, more often, the things that people fight over and cause the kind of conflict that lasts for years are not the things of great monetary value but the mementos such as mediocre stamp collection or great grampa’s non-functioning pocket watch, which stopped a bullet during the war and saved his life.
The gospel of Luke tells of one such family conflict. We are told little; only that the man wanted Jesus to take his side! In Jesus’ time, the rules about dividing the property were supposed to be clear so I am not sure what was going on here.
However this conflict or unhappiness has occurred, it caused one of the brothers to come to Jesus for his authoritative intervention but instead of taking the bait, Jesus tells a parable. This parable gives the readers of Luke’s gospel far more to chew on than merely intervening in the family dispute. As I have said before, where would the teaching come from that!
What is the issue in the parable? Well, it’s NOT that this fictitious man has a great deal more than he needs. It’s NOT that he builds new and bigger barns. It his attitude! He needs, in the words of someone with whom I went to theological school, “an attidude adjustment”. It seems that this man regards himself as self-made, self-reliant and he is selfish. He does not seem to give any thought to sharing some of what has come his way.
He has no room for God, he does not seem to need the God whose world has blessed him immensely.
Few, if any, farmers get where they are without hard work, usually a number of generations of it. Few if any farmers though are entirely responsible for their success. The weather, the climate and luck or chance, each play crucial roles. Knowing what to plant and when and where are the responsibility of the farmer but then it’s not really in the farmer’s power to affect the outcome.
In addition, these days, roads the farmer did not build and equipment the farmer did not invent assist the farmer in crucial ways.
The bottom line of stewardship is that all things come from God and belong to God. This rich fool did not realize this, or at least his life did not show he believed it.
What is the most telling is his “interior conversation” as he surveys his “bumper crop” and realizes that since he does not have the storage space. His solution is that he will build bigger barns.
In his own mind, he was “set for life” but did not realize how short that life would be.
Retirement contingent upon one’s saved resources is still a relatively new concept. As a general rule, we no longer rely on the younger members of our extended family for our food and lodgings in our old age. Indeed my great-grandfather, 100 years ago, more or less, unlike many in his generation, believed in education for his daughters so that they could support themselves if they did not marry instead of being a burden on the brothers!
These days, personal savings are encouraged and we are told again and again that the baby boomers may bankrupt our social safety net and tear it to shreds so we had better save, save, save and invest, invest, invest. Financial planners disagree about how much of our pre-retirement income will be needed to allow us comfort in our old age. In this climate it is all too tempting to focus on ourselves because, we reason, if we don’t look after ourselves, no one else will.
As a church we can fall into that trap as well. Do we save everything we have left over , for a rainy day. or do we also focus on the “other” who is in need, especially if we feel little “connection” to that other.
We had a wonderful Strawberry Tea a few weeks ago. A number of people got together and with donations and shortcake we raised $1,000 more or less for a family of refugees that we have never met, though I do hope we can once they settle in. It was a wonderful feeling to be doing something that we may never benefit from ourselves - directly and personally but will benefit others immensely. We trust these folks will become contributing members of society and can go on to help others, as some new Canadian residents who are former refugees have aleady done when Ft McMurray was in flames. Many took part, because, they knew how it felt and because it was the right thing to do.
This parable does not tell us “how much is too much” but it does call us to make our own decisions by asking us to question the value we place on these things in which we trust and that trust itself. If we feel the only thing we need to be “set for life” is MONEY then we are in for a very empty life. If we feel that we can be guaranteed what we have prepared for - we may be in for a rude awakening.
Sometimes I see people scrimping and saving for their golden years and putting things off until they can afford their “once in a lifetime adventure”, or whatever it was. I usually tell them, why don’t you enjoy some of your money now - too many people get to retirement and they for health reasons they can’t travel or do those things they sacrificed for in their working years.
How we live and our faith are intrinsically related to how we view and manage our resources, all of our resources. If we feel that we alone are responsible for our long term well-being then there is little room for trusting in God.
John Wesley, 18th century Methodist leaders is believed to have once said, ““Earn all you can, give all you can, save all you can.” Notice that he does not say, ‘Spend all you can.”
I get a kick out of those home renovation shows. Many of them are filmed in areas where I would need to rob a bank, or several banks, to own a home - but these folks seem to be able to upgrade to better and better and more and more - and live in a world where they have had it with “making do”. So they “love it or list it”.
For the first ten or twenty years of their marriage, at least, a cousin of mine was called on a regular basis by realtors looking to list their home becasue they should buy something bigger and make way for some family who needed a starter home. They are still in their same house!
What is important in life?
It should not come as a surprise to anyone that I am not a fan of lotteries or gambling- of any sort - but I want to focus for a minute on the ones run by the government. The phrase “set for life” gives one the impression that if only you had that kind of money you would “have it made”. If you had that kind of money you could “live your dreams” and you would be “set for life”.
We know though that not having enough to make even the most modest ends meet can be very debilitating but at the other end, how much more that meeting our basic needs IS enough? If we have what we need now, what about a $100 more a week? $200? $1,000? When you get that, will you come to feel that it’s not quite enough? Probably.
You can’t buy health. Sometimes you can buy better health care. Sometimes you can afford more expensive care but sometimes you can’t. No matter how much meoney you have will cure some diseases especially loneliness and isolation.
To what use will we put our disposable income? What do our choices say about our relationship with God and God’s good creation?
It’s something to think about through the lazy, hazy days of what remains of a Valley summer.
See you all in September.
1995- 2016 The Rev. Beth W. Johnston.
For some good stuff go to:
The United Church has a great online bookstore and here is the link. If you live in Canada they will even send you a book display for your event and people who dont get to see that many books at once can have a ball!