A roughly filled out outline of today's sermon:
Money and Luke:
The Gospel of Luke emphasizes very heavily the dangers of wealth. For example it starts with the Magnificat—in it Mary says the hungry will be filled, but the rich will go away empty. Similarly Luke does not just have beatitudes in which the poor are considered blessed, but it also includes a part in which Jesus states, “Woe to the rich.”
Finally, as we see in a few weeks, it is pointed out you can’t serve both God and Mammon.
I bring this up because—
The 1st two weeks of August & the last two weeks of September are week in which it is impossible not to preach about God and Mammon—God and money. On top of that Synod Stewardship Guy will be preaching in a few weeks time, and I bet he’ll mention money in one way or another.
Dangers of talking about wealth:
There are several dangers when the church talks about wealth.
1. There is the danger we’ll say nothing, after all it’s impolite to talk about sex, politics, and money. But that’s not an option—Money is 15% of what Jesus talks about—there are well over 2,000 verses in scripture dedicated to the subject.
2. The next danger is that the Pastor will say—“Love of money is the root of all evil—but none of my concregation would love money—so we don’t need to worry about it.
3. Lastly, the Pastor might simplify things and say “Money is evil—unless you’re giving it to church, then it’s good stewardship… and call it a day.
This week and next week—Scarcity and Abundance
I would like to define these two ways of looking at the world, by the first questions they bring up in us—they are:
ScarcityàWhat don’t I have? What do I need?
Abundanceà What do I already have? What has God already provided for me?
Jesus begins today’s lesson by telling everyone it’s going to get rough, they’ll be drug before religious and political leader—but they shouldn’t worry, the Holy Spirit has them covered—they have an abundance of God’s help
Then he’s interrupted, with a question from the back—what about my inheritance? What about money?
Jesus responds to this request, as he often does, with a story… in this case a Story of Scarcity
A man collects massive amounts of possessions, then he dies, unable to “take it with him.”
There are a few things we should take away from Jesus’ story:
1. Talks to self (The man in Jesus’ story talks to himself—he says I, Me, or My 13 times in 3 sentences—because he’s obsessed with scarcity he is constantly looking out for #1, he’s stuck in a defensive crouch
· For that matter he sounds like Smeagol from Lord of the Rings, whispering “My precious” to his possessions
· He’s the classic definition of sinful—he’s Homo Incurvatus in Se a person curved in on their self—he’s so concerned about his needs that he’s stuck in his own belly button.
2. A Dis-ordered life (The man also has a disordered life—think about this number sequence:17, 2, 3, 4. 17 shouldn’t be the first number, one should—likewise scarcity can make possessions, our number one thing, which isn’t where they should fit in our life.
· Think about it, he’s put things before his very life! And now that his life is being called for he realizes his mistake. You’ve heard the old phrase, there are People to love, things to use—well scarcity can disorder this formula so you use people and love things.
· Think of our reading from Ecclesiastes—the author chased after money, and wisdom, and such things, and when attaining them found it all to be “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity” “Vapor vaporizing, all is vapor.” The wealth he grasped at in his barn was elusive, and fled from his fingers like smoke.
But Jesus doesn’t stop there, he follows this story up with a Story of Abundance
He says, “Hey, look at that Raven—it looks plump and happy, God provided for it… and it doesn’t have a barn! It has enough!
Jesus is saying to the man who interrupted him:
1. Order your life. Consider what you have (You’re alive, the person you’re inheriting from is dead, count your blessing!)
2. Talk to brother. Consider who you have (You’re in danger of breaking your relationship with your brother over material things—don’t do that!)
In conclusion, when you start with abundance instead of scarcity you are thankful for your life and all you have. Also, you might even start saying I, me, and my less and saying we, us, and our more.
I’ll more about that last one next week.
Amen and Alleluiah!