To Have Enough
As I started to write this sermon, I looked across my desk and there was a book in front of me called, Transformed Lives, Making Sense of Atonement Today, by one of my Sewanee professors, Cindy Crysdale. I’m not talking this morning about atonement theology, but I was struck by the words, Transformed Lives. Do we have the ability to transform our lives? Can God transform our lives? Our gospel reading this morning from Luke reminds us that Jesus tells us to be on guard against all kinds of greed. More, more, more! I look around my house and see so much stuff accumulated over the years. Clothes in my closet that I never wear. Duplicate copies of books because I forgot that I already had a copy, magazines piled up in every corner because I’m going to read them someday. What did God say to the rich man? You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. This stuff in our lives is worthless, yet we hang onto it for years, we carry it with us when we move…sure that someday I’ll get to it. I might need it someday. What if someday never comes? What if all we have is the here and now? Are we ready to have our lives transformed? Will this transformation even be important to us as we wade through all our stuff? What might it feel like to let go of our greed, our insatiable thirst to have even more? What if we told ourselves, I have just enough. I have enough to meet my needs. I have enough to share with those less fortunate. I have enough to allow for transformation in my life. I have no need to store up treasures. My store should be used to help others see the love of God. I loved seeing a group of us gathering last Sunday to prepare wraps for the Meals to Go event on Tuesday evenings. We all lead busy lives, but it feels good to come together for a good cause. A time spent using our hands to prepare food for the hungry. A time spent in community, bonding over a shared experience. These are transformational moments in our lives. Welcome these moments into your lives. Enjoy the moment. Share the love of God. You just never know when your life will be demanded of you.
Another book on my desk is Weird Church, by Beth Ann Estock and Paul Nixon. This book describes massive shifts in culture that have impacted the church. Maybe one massive shift can be the letting go of the greed in our lives and working to make sure we all have just enough to keep us going. What might be a way Grace Church could be described as a weird church? We’ve opened our doors to the community to pray with us, especially on Tuesday nights with our Meal and a Prayer event. Guests coming through our doors haven’t been plentiful, but there have been some. Sometimes you start these programs and pray that they will be helpful to the community, not just with providing some food to eat, but also providing a time for prayer. This effort may seem weird to some. What else? There is a group of us gathering on Thursday evenings to watch a series of foreign films with limited dialogue and subtitles, loosely based on the Ten Commandments, called The Decalogue. I enjoyed spending time with the group after the movie discussing what we’d seen, What motivates the characters, what surprises us about them. Where is God in the story. This is definitely not your traditional Sunday school. Weird, right? I spent 2.5 hours driving up from Nashville and back to watch an hour-long movie and then discuss it for 30 minutes. Weird? Maybe, but I loved doing it. I loved spending time with others, sharing the mystery and love of God.
Not sure I’m speaking this morning enough about what it is to be greedy in this time. Greedy is not just about holding onto our money for ourselves. We can be greedy in lots of ways. Are we greedy with our time? With our attentiveness? Would this change if we knew our life would be demanded from us this very night? How does our greediness show itself? What do we store up for ourselves? I have to admit I’m guilty. I feel like I must have mentioned before that I have way more pairs of shoes than any man should have. I guess I just like shoes. Sometimes, though, I look at all those shoes and just shake my head. Why in the world would anyone have that many shoes? It seems ridiculous. Some of you may feel my pain. For others here, you may have accumulated other things. Greedy may be a bit harsh, but I know I don’t need all those shoes. I’m not going to beat myself up or you about it, but it does make me think about the concept of enough. Am I living my life in a way that I consume just enough of what I need and leave something for others? Do I love myself enough, enough that I’m healthy living in my own skin and then there is plenty of love to share with others? Do I take enough time for myself to rest and recharge leaving time in my schedule for others? For God? I’m reminded of a story. I’ve spent a few weekends at St. Mary’s Retreat Center in Sewanee, in fact I just drove up from there this morning. There have been times when I’ve stayed in their small hermitage building. It’s a space you can rent for personal retreats…basically one main room with a small bathroom. I can remember walking in there the first time and thinking that this space was perfect…a bed, a comfy chair, a galley kitchen, and a table under a large window looking out over the beautiful grounds of the center. It’s all I could ever want. It was enough. I’ll eat and sleep and read and stare out that window thinking about the beauty of God’s creation. There is a certain peacefulness in stripping down the stuff in our lives and spending time with just enough. Look, I’m not advocating that we get rid of all of our stuff, though reducing our stuff might seriously be helpful, but maybe we should think about areas of our life that could benefit from reducing the clutter all around us. I know there are clothes in my closet that I never wear! We may just find that there is new peace in our lives, a sense of relief from not carrying around so much. Maybe we can let go of the stress and worry in our lives. How good would it feel to let that go? I wish you enough. Enough love and joy and peace to sustain you for today. I hope you take any extra and make sure they have enough too. We’re all in this together. Amen