11th Sunday after Pentecost 2016

Sermon Title: 11th Sunday after Pentecost 2016
Date: 31st July 2016
Preacher: Rev’d Susanne Chambers
Lectionary Reading: Hosea 11:1-11, Psalm 107, Colossians 3:1-11, Luke12:13-21,

A couple of months ago, the family gathered in Sydney to move mum from her two bedroom unit into a small one bed room in the hostel section of Mary Andrew’s Village.

Some years previous, we gathered at our family home to move mum from there to the two bedroom unit.

Each time, a lot of decisions were made of what to keep, what to give away, what to throw away!

It’s never easy as I’m sure many of you have done similar things yourselves.

In some ways, our belongings can define us. It can be a show of our status in society.  And of course we are constantly seduced by the ads on tv and on billboards saying we don’t have enough. And I think that can also translate into you are not enough!

The advertisements keeps us anxious and fearful and then we spend most of our days, thinking about money and even if we can’t afford it, we might just go and buy that new gadget, or clothes or whatever. Then we get anxious that the visa bill has come in and we wonder how we are going to pay it off!

When I read the parable that Jesus told to…well, I’m not sure who he told it to…it wasn’t just the man in the crowd who wanted Jesus to intervene in regards to family inheritance.  It wasn’t just to the thousands of people who were following him, or just the disciples. Maybe it was to all of them and us too.

Anyway, it is a sad parable.

It appears this rich man was totally self-absorbed. A lonely guy.

The whole conversation he had was with himself! And with his soul!

Amazing!

He thought that having a bigger barn he and is Soul, would be able to relax, eat, drink and be merry into the future!

We have heard or known people who have not been happy when they have come into a large sum of money…although, I can read your minds saying ‘well, I’d be ok with a few more dollars! J   and certainly some recent ads on tv are suggesting that.

“The dream of riches that will secure life and make us happier than we are now is built into the bones of ordinary people. We are deaf to the warnings of every spiritual tradition that this way of securing life is futile.” Page 218 John Shea

But how difficult is this to hear. When we need shelter, food, clothing, relationships and finances. There is also the added temptation of possibly keeping up with the Jones!

God comes into the parable after the rich man has sorted out what he and his Soul are going to do and God says “you fool!” you are going to die tonight.  The rich man hadn’t thought about death obviously since he and his Soul was going to have a jolly good time!

You might think that this is a bit harsh saying ‘You fool!’ and there is one other time in Luke’s gospel where this is said and it is to the Pharisees where their foolishness is associated with greed and with the neglect of justice and the love of God.  (Luke 11:40). So maybe it’s not too harsh really.

God goes on to say “so it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.” (verse21).

What does that mean ‘but are not rich towards God’?  That we have to devote ourselves completely to God? Or selling all we have and give the money to the church?

Rich towards God.  I like how Bill Loader puts it: he says “It means living the kind of life which God values …………The passage assumes that ‘life’ and ‘being rich towards God’ coincide.  If we listen to the passage in the context of the whole story, it is clear that ‘life’ means God’s life, sharing God’s life, being what we were made to be.  When the lawyer asked about ‘eternal life’ and pressed the point he heard a parable about a Samaritan.  Such life is life towards God because it is life lived in the spirit of God…”  (First Thoughts on Year C.)

And how do we live in the spirit of God?

Our mission statement says something about this: it is “to radiate the compassion and love of God not only in our faces but also by our actions in worship, teaching, music and outreach.”

How do we live in the spirit of God?

It’s about our hearts. It’s about realising that we are enough and so are others.  That our culture/society can tell us that we don’t have enough and are not enough, and we know deep down that that is not the whole story.

I read a lovely way of being ‘rich toward God’ and that was about lying on the abundant land and letting the grain grow right through your body without ever thinking of a barn.”  Page 217 John Shea.

We are all worthwhile and connected to God and to the whole of creation. It’s quite wonderful to think about this. There’s something freeing when we realise we are connected to each other and the earth and not held ransom by our possessions.

Yesterday, I attended the Canterbury Council of Churches breakfast. Our guest speaker was Amanda Donohoe, the acting CEO of Servants community housing.  They have three rooming houses in Boroondarra.  Two in Kew and one in Hawthorn.

The people who live in these rooming houses not far from here, are there because of life circumstances, poor choices, mental illness and this has meant they have lost family, friends, home and work.  They have stories to tell like each of us and are treated with respect, dignity and with hope at these rooming houses.

I’m sure these approximately 89 residents are just the tip of the iceberg of the homeless in our area.

I heard a story recently of a women whose life changed dramatically. She was in a well-paid job which she loved, was able to buy her own home until she became ill and then as circumstances unfolded, she lost her job and her house and was homeless for a number of years.  And she keeps smiling!
All these folk have lost their possessions, so in this parable they may see clearly that ‘one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.’  My hope is that they do see the richness towards God through the care they receive at the rooming houses and their lives blessed and the carers’ lives as well.

Speaking of possessions, I have kept some things from mum’s unit and maybe down the track I won’t need to have them. so I’ll be able to hold them lightly.

I will end with a prayer:

O God, from whom all good things come, give us grace to live to your glory; give us respect for each other and for all your creation.  Fill our lives with a sense of wonder, and give us wisdom in all our dealings.  Amen

The Lord be with you