“MANNA, MILLIONAIRES AND UBUNTU” -
A SERMON FOR UN WORLD PEACE DAY
A sermon preached at the
“They kept part of it
until the morning,
but it was full of maggots and began to smell…” (Exodus 16:20)
We read the OT lesson about the Children of Israel in the desert.
hungry - so God gives them manna to eat -
a free gift falling from the sky.
the Israelites to take what they need each day -
there is plenty to go round
of the Israelites are greedy and selfish -
they decide to hoard manna for a rainy day -
well next exactly for a rainy day - there weren’t any rainy days in the desert -
but they decided to hang on to some of it as a bit of security for tomorrow -
or maybe even corner the market in manna futures??…
manna they store goes mouldy & gets worms & stinks -
a parable if ever there was one of human selfishness and greed, -
greed which aims to guarantee contentment, security & peace
but often does the exact opposite.
We may be
tempted to say of the Israelites in the desert -
how stupid you were to hoard manna in the desert -
why did you not listen to God, trust him,
and share out the bounty he gave to you?
And yet look at how we live our lives in the modern world:
Look at the papers this week:
markets in chaos as a result of an unholy mix
of rumour, speculation, panic and greed
wheeler dealer financiers seeking to turn a quick buck
through short selling, apparently careless of the havoc
wrought to the financial security and jobs of millions
this week more news from the horn of Africa
of rising levels of starvation.
Still half the planet remains in poverty because the other half hoards
and will not share the good things of life.
speculation that the promises of third world aid and trade reform
- together with promises on climate change -
are to be broken by the rich nations on the grounds that
they have to protect their economies in crisis.
then car bomb atrocities in Pakistan -
the leaders of the rich West make more speeches
about the need for a war on terror -
but apparently never considering that the terror might be provoked in part
by poverty, despair and resentment of the rich by the abject poor.
As a rich
world we have hoarded the manna
God gave for us to share with all.
And we too have ended up with the stink
of corruption and greed in our nostrils.
is true of national politics can so often be true
at individual and personal level also.
all tempted, through selfishness and greed.
to abuse, misuse, misappropriate, God’s gifts.
need to recognize our responsibility
to use God’s gifts well,
to share them in love and justice.
I wonder if you have been watching the “Secret
Millionaire” TV series?
It is an usual programme - reality TV which actually makes you think.
Basically, a multi-millionaire is sent incognito for a
week or ten days
to work alongside a series of community projects in areas
of urban or other deprivation.
Whilst they are there, they evaluate the worth of the projects.
They don’t admit they are rich, until the end of their time in the projects.
Then, having decided how the money could be best used,
they donate £50K of their own money as they feel best,
to one or more of the projects.
In the last 5 minutes of each show,
you see where they have decided to give the money,
and watch it being handed over.
Predictably, those receiving the money
are both gob smacked and delighted to get the money -
in many cases the cheques are enough
to transform the work they are doing.
But maybe more telling and moving
is the impact all this has on the millionaires.
Week after week they say things like:
came to do this as a management exercise -
but I have become emotionally involved
always thought the needy only had themselves to blame -
now I see what they are up against
didn’t realize how many people gave so much
time and effort to society simply because they wanted to help
And time and time again:
has made me reconsider my values and priorities in life -
making a fortune is not the only or most important thing in life.
says “Don’t waste time storing up riches on earth -
it will be like hoarded manna - it will go mouldy, get moth eaten and rusty.
your money in stock piles of material goods -
the stock market will let you down one day -
and even if it doesn’t, don’t think that just having money will make you happy
Rather invest in spiritual riches, says Jesus
I wonder if you have come across the African word “Ubuntu”?
It is perhaps significant that it is hard to translate
But ubuntu is really “the art of being truly human”.
“Ubuntu manifests itself in the way people treat each other,
listen to one another, co-operate with one another,
bear one another’s burdens and treat one another with dignity.
It is simply explained by the principle ‘I am because we are,
we are because I am’.” (Jane Craske, “Being Human”)
21st September is the United Nations Day of World Peace.
How do we find peace?
There is an argument which I don’t accept, but it goes like this:
I grab all that I want and need to look after my own -
I protect my reserves of manna or oil,
or whatever treasure on earth is moist precious to me.
Then I employ part of my wealth to fund an army
to keep me powerful and safe, and to keep the peace
by enforcing law and order on those who are poor and needy.
As a rule
of national and international politics, it is as old
as so called civilization itself, but it doesn’t work.
peace cannot be enforced by armies -
only nurtured by ubuntu
the spirit of love, care and mutual support between all people.
said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you.
I do not give to you as the world gives. ” (Jn 14:27a)
So let’s not seek the enforced peace of the rifle,
nor the false peace of the unawakened conscience,
nor the bartered peace bought with ill-gotten wealth,
but rather the real peace which is found with Christ
when we walk the paths of justice, love and compassion.
demanding path to walk maybe -
but Christ walks with us -
listen as you walk and you will hear his voice:
“let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid”
Order of Service
Hymn 500 “Lord God, your love has called us here”
Prayers (Methodist Worship Book p. 211)
OT Reading: Exodus 16:11-20 (p.74)
NT Reading: Matthew 6:19-24 (p.971)
Hymn SOF 27 “As the deer”
Sermon: “Ubuntu, Manna and the Millionaire”
Hymn 802 “O Master, let me walk with thee”
Prayers of Intercession (MWB p. 214)
Hymn 69 “The King of Love”
Holy Communion (MWB p, 215)
Hymn 620 “O bread to pilgrims given”