Rev. Carol A. Prochaska (ret.)
August 11, 2013
Title: For Goodness Sake! It's God!
Scripture: Luke 12:32-40
When my brother and I were kids we travelled by train without our parents, for visits with a favorite Aunt and Uncle. There we would be standing on the train platform with our little brown suitcase, waiting with our Dad who had purchased and was holding our train tickets. It was exciting! And it was also scary as we waited for the conductor to call out "All Aboard!" And with these words our journey—our adventure—began.
And then there's travelling by plane—picture with me: a cold winter morning in January; people sit waiting to get on their plane; they can see big snowflakes falling outside. And then over the speaker a voice says: "All those travelling Air Canada Flight 2014 to Honolulu this is your first boarding call." And with these words a journey—an adventure—began.
Or think about a group of 9 year olds at a Birthday party excited to soon break open a Piñata. With blindfolds hiding their eyes and sticks in their hands the children lean forward eagerly waiting for the words "Now! Go!" And with these words they are into their journey taking them to sweet rewards! In so many ways we get ready for action. Jesus says: "Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit;" Why? So that we are ready to: continue our journey with God and to receive God's kingdom—God's commonwealth—now in this life. It is to receive that which we pray for when we say "your kingdom come, your will be done on earth..." The kingdom or realm can be understood as: God's Presence in our life, God's Power in our life, and God's Purpose in our life.
Our gospel reading began with Jesus saying: "Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is God's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Do you hear the love? The tenderness? The generosity? Do you hear God's commitment to give us God's riches? God's willingness? In the Greek language "God's good pleasure" literally means: "God is thinking well of us." We are the apple of God's eye. Good News: When it comes to God's kingdom here on earth, God is way more ready to give it to us than we are prepared to receive.
We heard two parables: the first one where employees are prepared and the second one where a home owner is not prepared. In the first parable you will remember that the manager arrives home in the middle of the night puts on an apron and serves a meal to the staff—a surprising up-side down picture—and yet this is an image of our God surprising us. This is our God waiting and wanting to give to us that which is ultimately filling and satisfying.
The second parable also has a surprise, but this time the surprise results in frustration because the home owner is not prepared for a break-in. How prepared are we for God to break in—whenever!
Good News: When it comes to God's Presence... God's Power... God's Purpose... here on earth, God is way more ready to give it to us than we are prepared to receive
Among all the things that Jesus might have said to get ready for God's in-breaking in our lives, this morning's instructions are quite simple: downsize and share. Jesus says: "Sell your possessions, and give alms."
The Greek word alms literally means "compassion as exercised towards the poor." So to give alms is to respond out of love to benefit another, in particular another who is in need. The image that came to my mind with these words is that of us with open and empty hands symbolizing our downsizing and sharing and symbolizing our emptiness as vessels for God to pour in Gods goodness. Like the children with the piñata we are ready to catch the goodies, that is God's Presence, Power and Purpose.
Some of you may have heard of the organization, Bread for the World. Arthur Simon is the founder of this Christian movement. The goal of this organization is to seek justice for the world's hungry people by lobbying decision makers. Arthur Simon has also written a book titled: "How Much Is Enough?" It's a challenging title, or at least it has been for me. These words (How Much Is Enough?) evoke within me uneasiness. In his book, Simon reminds readers that when it comes to possessions, "It is our attachment, our submission to them that is idolatrous." He goes on to say: "We become enamored of [our possessions], infatuated as a lover might become infatuated, and give our hearts to them." Jesus says: "[W]here your treasure is, there your heart will be also." So we downsize and share to receive the treasures God so wants us to have.
And of course it is not only our possessions we like to hang-on to! I hardly need to remind you that we—Nelson United Church—are in a season of transition. In this on-going journey we are now reaching out and engaging the wider Nelson community. We are very grateful to the speakers who have and will share with us. But if we are holding tight to the past—if that's where our hearts are—how then can we receive? How then can we continue the journey? Participate in the adventure?
It seems to me that in our receiving from the community, from our guest speakers, we have opportunity to experience God's Presence, God's Power, and God's Purpose. As we stay in the Way of Jesus—as we stay on this wild and wonderful and challenging journey—we can count on God's in-breaking into our lives. And we will be heard to say, "For Goodness Sake! It's God!" "For Goodness Sake! It's God!"