July 31, 2022: “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for ones life does ”
Updated: Aug 6, 2022
This morning I have 2 questions for you that I would like you to keep in mind and reflect on, personally and as a congregation.
What does it mean for us to be a people who are rich toward God.
Is giving driven by mission, or is mission limited by giving.
We are in the “green Sundays”. This is the time between special Church milestones like Pentecost or Reformation Sunday. We can think of these green Sundays as times of growth as is mirrored in the gardens surrounding us. We are growing in our faith centimetre by centimetre.
Our Gospel defines growth in categories beyond the economic. A life well lived in this world invests in the things of God. Luke is the only one of the Gospel writers to use this parable. Luke’s concern was the ongoing needs of the Church and the believers lifelong religious values.
In this passage Jesus warns about greed. He cautions against focusing only on our own needs and wants. Humans are greedy. And once greed has a hold on us, enough is never enough. Greed is a problem because the focus becomes on us, not on God or neighbour.
We have to balance a concern for the future with the direction to give glory to God and to care for others.
Is giving driven by mission or is mission limited by giving.
Jesus exposes our human greed and anxiety about money. Where do money issues intersect with the life of our congregation. Probably just about everywhere. Money can be seen as a thermostat for issues anxiety and control. And money is always about more than money. It is invested with emotions and memories.
Perhaps you came to Church this morning or are watching the service from home and you really do not want to think about money. You might want to get away from the news stories of inflation or the cost of gas or groceries or the Bank of Canada raising interest rates and you might be asking - what on earth is the Pastor doing talking about money in Church.
Well money does intersect with our life as a congregation. We are all aware that it costs money to keep the lights on and the doors open. To ensure that worship will take place every Sunday. And Jesus talked about money - quite a bit actually!
Money is a part of our Christian life - not the centre of it. That is one of the messages in today’s text.
Our Gospel text this morning asks us to consider the ongoing needs of our Church. Our Church. We can consider our needs as Advent Lutheran Church, or broaden it to the Central Toronto Ministry Area or perhaps the Eastern Synod or even the ELCIC. Or we might want to think really big and consider the Church worldwide.
Perhaps for today we should focus on Advent!
We can start with the reminder of what our mission statement says - it’s embroidered and hanging in the hall.
“We meet to worship, baptize, commune and grow in faith. We do this by putting Christ’s command to love one another into action as we strive to spread God’s word in our congregation, community and church at large through witness and teaching.”
When you hear this mission statement what do you think. How does it make you feel. Is it an accurate reflection of who we are or what we want to do. Does it adequately reflect what we can do. For what does our congregation toil and save. What matters to us.
I think it is significant that the first three things - worship, baptize and commune are all things tied to formal worship. That means things that happen here on Sunday mornings in person and now online as well.
As you know we are in a process of discussing and discerning the future of Advent. To this end a small group has been working with a facilitator in a process called EDGE. The purpose of this is to do some visioning that would put us in a position to look toward the future and possible development.
Why are we doing this. Because we need to plan for a future so that there will be a future for Advent.
What does it mean for us to be a people who are “rich toward God’. For the future of Advent this is an important question. We need to reflect and pray about what we want and why we want it.
Think again of the man in the parable this morning. He is concerned only with himself and what he has. No where does he offer thanksgiving to God for the abundance of the land.
This is a good reminder that we need to start from a place of gratitude for the abundance that God gives. The call of the Gospel is to be rich toward God.
Thanks be to God for the gifts we have been given. Thanks be to God for the people who came before us that made this place, this community possible. Thanks be to God for the people of Advent now. Thanks be to God.