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2016.07.31 Trinity 10

SERMON (based on Luke 12:13-21)

 

The parable this morning in our reading from Luke emerges from Jesus’ response to a request from someone in the crowd to judge, in what seems to be a dispute between brothers in matters of inheritance. Family inheritance issues can bring hatred and bitterness, especially if no legal Will is in place

 

I am the oldest of 4 brothers. Our Mother and Father died within about a year of each other. My youngest brother and one of the others fell out basically over a money issue. It wasn’t even a lot of money; in fact it was peanuts. For the last 15 years of my youngest brothers life, not a word passed between them.

 

At my youngest brother’s funeral a few weeks ago, my other two brothers were, at the very last minute, asked to be pallbearers. Fifteen years without a spoken word between them, then he carried his coffin. At the end of the funeral, the brother that had not spoken to my youngest brother for fifteen years, wept his heart out. Partly of course, this was due to the tragic early loss of his youngest brother. But partly it was for the lost 15 years of family life thrown away for a measly few quid

 

Jesus refused the man’s request to judge the dispute and then said this: “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance

of possessions.”  Then he told them a parable:

 

So let’s be clear about one thing. It’s not about the money. Not in this parable or in life. In the parable, Jesus’ warning is NOT about money, or  wealth, or material abundance.

Jesus warns against greed, about selfishness, about the feeling of never having enough

 

The farmer’s problem isn’t that he’s had a great harvest, or that he’s rich, or that he wants to plan for the future. The farmer’s problem is that his good harvest, (good fortune if you like) has distorted his vision so that everything he sees starts and ends with himself.

 

If we look again at the conversation he has, which by the way, is not with a spouse or friend or parent or neighbour, but only with himself, it goes like this:

 

I will do this:

I will pull down my barns

I will build larger ones,

and there I will store all my grain and my goods.

 

Take care! (Jesus says) Be on your guard against all kinds of greed, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”

 

God, cuts short the man’s  selfish dreams with, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?

 

Foolishness here is associated with greed and selfishness and also with the neglect of justice and the love of God. No amount of accumulated wealth can forestall the end of his life and You can’t take it with you

 

At the funeral of the  amazingly wealthy Aristotle Onassis, one of the mourners asked
 ‘How much did he leave?

 

The reply was: Everything. He left everything.’

 

 

 

Some years ago I was at a retreat centre and got talking to someone. She was clearly of pensionable years, happy and vibrant. She went on too tell me that she and her husband had recently joined the SKI club. I must have looked startled when she said this, so she explained further. Don’t worry she said.  SKI just stands for: Spend the Kids Inheritance

 

St. Augustine once said that God gave us people to love and things to use. He goes on to say that, sin, is the confusion of these two things. God gave us people to love and things to use

 

Relationships, community, the sense of purpose that comes from helping another, the kinds of things that Jesus invites us to embrace and strive for are much harder to lay our hands on. We know what a good relationship feels like, but it’s hard to point to, or produce at a moment’s notice. And we know that wonderful feeling of being accepted into a community, but it’s not like you can run out to the Co-op or Waitrose and buy it.

 

Our Money isn’t the problem. The problem is our culturally informed beliefs about what constitutes the good life. Our desire to look to money, rather than to God and to each other - for life. God gave us people to love and things to use. Let’s not get them confused.

 

Let us do justice, and love kindness, and walk humbly with each other and our God

 

Amen

 


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