1959 Cadillac Eldorado
“A man's life does not consist
in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15)
I would like you to think for a moment about your material
if you could keep only four things, what would you keep?
Which of your material goods are most essential to you in your daily living?.
Think about it for a minute.
You might then begin to reflect on
how many of our possessions are not on the list –
indeed how much we own is really superfluous baggage in the journey of life.
We might also reflect on the extent
to which our wealth carries with it responsibility –
responsibility to use what we have wisely and share it generously
with those for whom such basic choices are all too real.
The economist Robert Heilbroner
suggests another mental exercise.
Imagine, he says, doing the following,
and you will see how daily life is
for more than a billion people in the world:
1. Take out all the furniture in
except for one table and a couple of chairs.
Use a blanket for a bed.
2. Take away all of your clothing
except for your oldest dress or suit, shirt or blouse.
Leave only one pair of shoes.
3. Empty kitchen cupboards &
fridge except for
a small bag of flour, some sugar & salt, a few potatoes,
some onions, a dish of dried beans.
4. Dismantle the bathroom, shut
off the running water,
and remove all the electrical wiring in your house.
5. Take away the house itself
and move the family into the tool shed.
6. Place your "house" in a shantytown.
7. Cancel all subscriptions to
magazines, and book clubs. This is no great loss
because now none of you can read anyway.
8. Leave only one radio for the whole shantytown.
9. Move the nearest hospital or
clinic ten miles away
and put a midwife in charge instead of a doctor.
10. Throw away your cheque books,
and insurance policies.
Leave the family a cash hoard of five pounds.
11. Give the head of the family a
few acres to cultivate
on which he can raise a few hundred pounds of cash crops,
of which one third will go to the landlord
and one tenth to the money lenders.
12. Lop off twenty-five or more years in life expectancy.
Maybe we should reflect more deeply on our material wealth.
there is more to life than simply material possessions.
In your mind’s eye let me ask you to construct another list -
This time think of the four things
which are most important to you in your life
(not necessarily material things this time)
Think about it for a moment.
Have you put the same things on the list?
we start to recognize that even
our most valued and relied on material possessions (cars, computers, clothes)
don’t stack up very high against the real foundations of our life –
I wonder what your list contains?
Loving relationships, peace, faith, health, happiness, faith,
or maybe your just the names of other people special to you……?
And here we are deep into our
Bible passage today –
which is really about what our priorities are in life.
A man asks Jesus to adjudicate
about his share of the family inheritance.
Jesus, as so often tells a story in reply.
It is about a man who builds bigger and bigger barns
to hold his material wealth –
this is his aim, his object in life, it is his ultimate security.
calls him a fool – material wealth is transitory –
it isn’t actually what gives you joy and peace –
one day (maybe sooner than you think) you will die –
and then you will stand before God at the last judgment
and what will all your money be worth to you then?
It’s spiritual wealth you should be seeking.
Spiritual wealth is about love and care –
it is precisely by sitting loose to your material wealth
that you find spiritual riches.
The man worried about claiming for himself the money
which might otherwise go to his brother –
he had it all back to front,
he should have been worried about making sure his brother
got the money he needed – that was the way to spiritual wealth.
This is difficult stuff for us in our culture and society.
many of us here are actually beneficiaries of,
or paying into a pension plan of some kind?
The accepted wisdom is that that is prudent and sensible –
it is of course the modern equivalent of building barns –
building up a financial nest egg
to ensure material security for the future.
So it’s a difficult passage for us,
and we need to be careful not to take too easy a way out.
the end of the day, Scripture is not against money,
it is against the love and idolization of money.
does Jesus call the man a fool?
Not because he was rich per se,
but because he had got his priorities wrong –
his material wealth, the things of life,
had replaced God’s loving will as his ultimate aim objective and concern:
Martin Luther King, preaching on this passage, says this -
“The other day in Atlanta,
the wife of a man had an automobile accident.
He received a call that the accident had taken place on the expressway.
The first question he asked when he received the call:
"How much damage did it do to my Cadillac?"
He never asked how his wife was doing.
Now that man was a fool,
because he had allowed an automobile to become
more significant than a person.
He wasn’t a fool because he had a Cadillac,
he was a fool because he worshiped his Cadillac.
He allowed his automobile to become more important than God. “
Martin Luther King goes on:
“Somehow in life we must know
that we must seek first the kingdom of God,
and then all of those other things—clothes, houses, cars—
will be added unto us.
But the problem is all too many people fail to put first things first.
They don’t keep a sharp line of demarcation
between the things of life and the ends of life.”
MLKing, “A knock at
Ford once asked a business associate about his goal in life.
The man replied that his goal was to make a million dollars.
A few days later Ford gave the man a pair of glasses
but in the place where the lenses should have been
there were two silver dollars.
He told the man to put them on and asked what he could see.
"Nothing," the man said. "The dollars are in the way." ….
King Duncan, www.Sermons.com, Collected Sermons
is valuable, no question about that.
But money is only a means by which we reach higher goals:
service to others. obedience to God.
God comes to the rich man and says,
"You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you.
Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?"
The message is clear.
The rich man had put his whole trust in material possessions.
It was a bad choice.
In Samuel Beckett’s play “Happy
the key character is called Winnie.
She spends the first half of the play buried up to her waist in sand.
This does not disturb her –
she spends her time rummaging in her bag,
which contains all her material possessions –
all she seems to care about.
In second half of the play she is buried up to her neck.
She is no longer able, or indeed desirous of,
meaningfully caring for or relating to anyone else –
she does not seem to notice or mind any of this –
she is caught up in a totally insular world of her own -
& still chatters on “This is a Happy Day” she says.
Winnie is alive – but in a real sense she is already in the grave –
she is dead to the world.
(cf Denis McBride C.SS.R., Seasons of the Word p.278)
question about our barns, our pensions, our bank accounts,
is this: do we use them to cut ourselves off from others,
and end up digging our own graves –
or conversely do we use them to bring love and hope and joy to others –
the means to new life?
4 young Christians were martyred,
by the fascist security forces of El Salvador
whilst leading a Spiritual Retreat.
Archbishop Oscar Romero (himself soon to be martyred)
gave the funeral address.
His words reminded his persecuted and oppressed people
what was really important in life,
what was worth living and dying for,
what would ultimately endure.
"All pomp, all triumphs, all selfish
all the false successes … [pass] away.
What does not pass away is love.
When one has turned money, property,
work in one's calling into service of others,
then the joy of sharing and the feeling that all are one's family
does not pass away.
In the evening of life, you will be judged on love."
was of course giving words of comfort
to his impoverished and oppressed sisters and brothers.
Also a clear warning to their oppressors.
But these words are for us all.
as Scripture says, our life will be demanded of us –
maybe this very night.
On that day God – whose very name is love -
will love us & accept us –
but he will also (so lovingly and tenderly) judge us –
and ask each one of us (I guess in a tone of deep love & deep sorrow) –
my child, what sort of wealth did you amass on earth,
and what gifts do you bring to me now at the gates of heaven?
Pray God we may have a good answer to give.
ORDER OF SERVICE
5 Aug 2007 10.30 a.m. Worship led by Rev Andrew Sails
Introduction Chorale, Menuet Gothique,
& Priere a Notre-Dame (from Gothic Suite by Boellmann)
Hymn SF 27 목마른 사슴“As the deer”
Minister: Let us share God’s blessing:
Adults: The peace of the Lord be with you
Young Church: And also with you.
Minister: Go in peace
(Young Church leave)
Readings: Rom 8:35-39 (p.1135), Luke 12:13-21 (p.1045)
Hymn 705 나의 삶을 주 위해 Take My Life
Sermon: “Happy Days”
Hymn 425 “Lord, save thy world”
Prayers and Lord’s Prayer
Leader: ……..Lord , hear us
People (sing): Through our lives & by our prayers, your Kingdom come
Hymn 264 “Jesus – the name high over all”
Organ: Toccata (from Gothic Suite by Boellmann)