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Friday, November 16, 2018
Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 12:13–31
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. (NRSV)
The people I see in hospital rooms and health care portions of retirement homes have been my teachers. They have shown me what it is like to live when all the treasures have been taken away.
One woman whose home had been on Sheridan Road in Wilmette told me how thankful she was to have the one window in her room at Presbyterian Homes. She relished seeing the tree outside. Another woman at the Bowman Health Center at Rush Hospital told me how thankful she was to open her eyes each morning. She was a double amputee. One man in a hospital room, having lost his wife, his home, his profession, still asks how I am and how my family is.
Jesus tells a parable when someone in the crowd wants advice about splitting up an inheritance. The parable is about a man who keeps building larger barns to store his grain. The point of the parable is that all of our striving to acquire things is the wrong focus. The striving should be for the kingdom of God, to bring God’s justice and compassion and love and blessing to the world. Those are the treasures we should be after.
None of this is easy. Jesus tells the disciples not to worry about their lives, what they will eat or drink or wear. But we are filled with all sorts of worries about survival and sending our kids off to college and meeting the rent payments. Maybe we could put all of our worry about things in perspective if we were to ask ourselves what would be left if all of our things were taken away. Would we still have gratitude for each day? Gratitude for a window and a tree? Would we still be able to ask someone else how they are and how their family is doing?
Gracious and loving God, please keep teaching me how to live and what is important. Help me put my “things” in proper perspective. Make our greatest striving be for the kingdom of God. Amen.
Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care
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