You Can’t Take It With You

Grace and Peace to you,

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ

All that we could ever treasure

Seek to obtain

Desire

IS HERE

At the Table

Standing out from the Cross

Because of the One,

Who gave up what was most precious to Him

His Life,

Jesus Christ, Our Risen Savior and Lord

Amen.

(pause)

(Start out by asking the question again about what is the congregation’s most treasured possession, something that they display on their person or in their homes. Share that what I always have treasured is when I receive a gift from and especially from an Elder and give examples like the sweaters that I got for birthdays and Christmas from my Grandmother, to even the Barbie House I got for my 8th birthday, and my Uncle came over to put it together. More recently, the women who have become my Mother’s rock, lovingly referred to as the Steel Magnolias, have not only encouraged me but gifted me as my seminary, and now my pastoral journey has commenced.  Hold up the shawl, scarf that Jerry Brown obtained for me and tell the story about how she acquired it, and it was unique and interested. However, one Thursday afternoon as my husband was in my office, he held it up and noticed these two verses (read one), which sort of threw me into a quandary because clearly this could point to the argument for prosperity gospel. But what kind of wealth is being spoken of here?)

And then I read the previous verse,

“Do not say to yourself,

My power and the might of my own hand

Have gotten me this wealth.”

I think we as people of faith,

In this pursuit of holiness and righteousness

Meshed in with this complex existence in this life,

This individualized society,

Built on this concept of prosperity

This theology of glory,

Which just like the weeds,

Invasive species in many of our gardens,

And have taken over,

Wound tightly over our bushes,

And flowers

Like a vine,

Has invaded our collective journey here,

And attempts to choke the life out of the Good News,

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

(pause).

It’s no secret,

That I loathe prosperity gospel

I will not ascribe to it

I do not agree to it

I will not preach it.

Theologian Dr. Justo Gonzalez,

Identifies this prosperity gospel,

As preached by many ministers and preachers,

As a way to manipulate God.

“The purpose of Biblical religion

Is not to have God do what we desire,

But for us rather,

To be accountable to God.”

Womanist theologian.

Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas

Defines this as Plationized Christianity,

A Christianity twisting God,

God’s promises

The Gospel,

Into the image of humankind

And therefore calling that which is evil,

Good,

And what is good,

Evil.

(pause)

Luther defines this as a theology of glory,

Where selfishness is rewarded

Individualism celebrated

Excusing the sins of greed

As a necessary evil,

To exist in this life

Ignoring Jesus’s command,

His teachings

“One’s life does not consist

In the abundance of possessions”

Or even still,

Ignoring Jesus altogether

His Sacrifice

On the Cross

I was horrified to see,

A quote from a megachurch pastor,

Who when the question posed to him

don’t you want a candidate

who embodies the teaching of Jesus

 and would govern this country

according to the principles

 found in the Sermon on the Mount?’”

His answer?

“I would run from that candidate as far as possible,

because the Sermon on the Mount

was not given as a governing principle for this nation.”

(pause)

This idea that Jesus Christ,

His Life

His Ministry

His Teachings

Somehow ceased to exist

Upon Christ’s resurrection

And because of that,

We have this “saint” status

And therefore God is relying on us

To rely on ourselves,

Our own strength

Might

And Power

Because the only way we will get that expensive house

In the right neighborhood

Or that luxury car with all the bells and whistles

Is if we pray a certain way,

IF we pray hard enough,

Our bank accounts, our coffiers will increase

Or go to a certain church

And ascribe to certain rules,

And formulas.

And when God sees us doing right,

God will grant us our every wish!

So then we should not be so surprised

That many of these megachurches

Who preach this theology of glory,

This prosperity gospel

From the pulpit

That God wants them to be prosperous

Wealthy,

Are brimming to the top with members.

(pause)

Maybe this farmer,

Found that this same formula worked for him

In our Gospel this morning.

But we could argue,

What should be his next directive?

Clearly he has an abundance of crops

Clearly in these ancient times,

Having success with crops or livestock

Should be celebrated!

And any good farmer

Would have done what we all would have,

Right?

Building storehouses so that these crops,

His harvest would not spoil

Or go to waste.

But notice

Where the focus is.

I won’t have to starve!

I’ll be okay!

Famine and hunger will come,

And I will be set!

Wow, I’ve done good for myself!

I cannot wait to celebrate.

I’ll sit in my house and look at what I have built and say,

Self, look at this good thing you have done!”

See?

(pause)

Or what about even,

The person,

Who has a secure job,

With solid income

Who leans on their own self,

And pats themselves on the back,

Because they have invested wisely

And can sit back and nod at the computer screen

Which shows all of their bank accounts

And investments

And can brag to themselves,

Self!

Look at all that wealth you have obtained!

You are doing good!

You will be alright while everyone else is suffering

You will be on top!

And then,

They balk

They are angered

When perhaps their children

Coming to them out of love,

Pursuing their own dreams,

Asking for a miniscule share of resources

Maybe perhaps to get a car,

So they can get to that dream job they were offered

Or caring for their mother,

Who needs palliative care

Whose house is crumbling

And they shut the door in their faces

“Why should I help anyone?

What return on my investment will I get?”

(pause)

What if,

Jesus had been that selfish?

For all the power and might the Creator God gave to Him

Shared with Him

What if He decided,

That we were not worthy enough

That our sins were too great

That we could never repay the cost He would have to pay?

(pause)

But the Good News is that

Jesus Christ

Gave up His Life,

Upon the Cross,

And because of this Sacrifice

The Cross stands,

As the reaffirmation

As compassion

That God LOVES US

And we are made NEW

REBORN

RESURRECTED WITH CHRIST!

And More Good News!

Neither the Creator nor Jesus demands any repayment!

Because there is nothing we can do,

Nothing!

God does this out of a Love we may never understand,

This is the richness

The Fullness

The reward that keeps on giving!

And because there is nothing we can do,

Nor any way we can repay

The Creator God calls us,

Jesus Christ commands of us

To do for others,

As God does for us,

Without end!

(pause)

So that is why we,

As People of Faith,

Give

Share the Resources with others

Whether we know them

Or not.

Thanks Be to God.

 

 

 

 

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