Gospel: Luke 13:13-21
13Someone in the crowd said to [Jesus,] “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 16Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
This could be a very short sermon – you got too much – stop focusing on it so much and focus on God. And if you have too much, why not give it to the church! Let’s take up the offering!
BUT, let’s be honest. We like the stuff.
It starts at a young age, yes?
I came across this several years ago - its something called "Toddler Property Laws." Talk about sounding familiar! See if you've ever known someone who has lived by this law.
Toddler Property Laws
1 If I like it, it's mine.
2 If it's in my hand, it's mine.
3 If I can take it from you, it's mine.
4 If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.
5 If it's mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.
6 If I'm doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
7 If it looks just like mine, it is mine.
We like our stuff. We earned it, we deserve it, we worked hard for it.
Theologian David Lose says if we look at the Gospel lesson today, what's scares us is that we identify a little too closely with the rich guy. After all, he's not a cheat, or a thief, or even particularly greedy. He's just worked hard and made a lot of money, kind of like most of us dream about. His mistake, in the end, doesn't have to do with the wealth; rather, he goes astray by believing that his wealth can secure his future, can make him independent -- from others, from need, from God. And I catch myself dreaming that, too: "If I just had a little more in the bank, or if the mortgage were paid off, or if the cash for the kids' college education was already saved, or (fill in the blank),...everything would be okay." The allure of money is that it creates the illusion of independence. It promises us that we can transcend the everyday vulnerabilities and needs that remind us that we're mortal, created beings ultimately and always dependent on others and, most especially, on God.
We are not alone with this struggle. It's hard to have a conversation about money because most of us have pretty much bought into the cultural assumption that equates money with personal worth, so we don't talk about it lest we discover we're not worth all that much. And maybe that’s where we run into trouble. We place value on the value of stuff. We do the calculations, and we compare and contrast.
But what is ultimate value? In the end, what is it that ultimately matters?
In the end, the Beatles' were right: money can't buy us love...or dignity, self worth, hope, or acceptance. What we need is for you to help us not just remember that, but also to live it. (David Lose)
How hard it is to let go so our hands might be free to receive what God has to offer.
Let us pray: Help us, O Lord, to release the grasp we have on so much stuff, so that we might experience the joy and freedom of living in the grasp of grace. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen