Gospel on the Brain

Good morning, friends.

This morning I woke up thinking about the gospel text for Sunday. I'm preaching on Sunday and the text has been percolating in my soul all week. During home visits and care center visits, I've been reading it with lots of folks, and they've given me terrific food-for-thought. I'm not sure why, but this this particular lesson is really on my brain.

I like Jesus for a lot of reasons. This week, I especially adore him for his amazing ability to invite people into stories! Jesus takes these huge issues that people been dealing with since the dawn of time: greed, wealth, money - and he approaches them in a way that allows EVERYONE to join the conversation. He tells a story - a parable. Who doesn't love a good story? Here's the gospel lesson:

Luke 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And 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.”

Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then 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. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But 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?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

Isn't it interesting? This man is a totally over-the-top character, and yet - at the same time - he's all of us. And through him, we can look at ourselves and not feel defensive. He's successful. He saves some money. Sadly, he ends up all alone and isolated. Who does he talk to? Yes, that's right - his own soul. No friends or family members around. He seems unphased.

And then,*poof*!

God shows up.

God isn't there to take him to hell. There's no sign at all that this man is being condemned for building his barn and saving all his stuff. It's just his time to die - a reality of existence we all face.

The reason God says "You fool" is because the man didn't even attempt to be "rich toward God" - and in the end, he dies just like everyone else. He can't take the stuff with him into eternity.

"Rich toward God" is the part of this whole gospel lesson I'm still digesting. That's where I really see the huge invitation for all of us to think and ponder and wonder and explore. Another way to say: "rich toward God" is to say: "abundant with God."

How can we be abundant with God - whether we're talking about our friendships, our family, our finances, our food choices, the conversations we have?

At its very core, I don't think this gospel text is all about money.
It's about life.

And every aspect of our lives is an invitation to live in a new kind of abundance totally disconnected from material or financial wealth. We can live in shared abundance with our Creator and with one another. We don't have to live isolated, selfish lives of greed and jealousy and loneliness. We can be rich toward God and rich toward each other every moment of every day.

When we take time to really, truly smell the basil plant - when we call our kids to say hello - when we send a letter - when we take a risk and go to church even though God sometimes drives us crazy - when we wake up and have a cup of coffee with our spouse - when we journal - when we draw - when we give away something new - when we ask our crabby coworker "Hey, what's really going on?": this is all being rich toward God.

This blog entry is a ramble. :) Thanks for listening.
Time to write that sermon.

Jesus, there is a lot about faith and life that confuses me - sometimes basically all of it. And then, sometimes, there are little glimpses of sense in the chaos. Thanks for parables like this one. Thanks for hope.

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