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8 Pentecost - Luke 12:13-21

The interviews of church people produced abundantly.

We considered pulling down Founders Hall and building a bigger room to hold all

the responses.

As it is, the number of dots each voter will receive has been tripled to still not enough.

There are so many perspectives and possibilities on the walls, and you will be

asked to select the most important, to find the diamonds in the rock pile.

How will you do it?

How will you vote?

What will be your guiding principle for identifying what’s best for our future?

What impact will your choices today have when you are dead tomorrow?

You can try to angle for more dots by insisting on votes for your dead relatives and then

asking Jesus to tell your family to divide them with you.

Or you can try to buy votes from the one committee member who suggested selling them.

That person may have been kidding.

Hopefully you will be an honest participant who accepts the allotment of dots you’re

given and spares your church an expensive investigation into voter fraud.

This leaves you with a few dots and a dizzying amount of options.

What will drive your choices?

Jesus has a word of unsolicited advice.

Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed…

One form of greed is voting to get what you want over what’s best for everyone.

Perhaps it’s so automatic in America that you’ve never noticed it before.

Do you vote your desires, or what you believe will be best for the most people?

If those interests conflict, which wins and why?

Today’s gospel has a pretty dim, and realistic, view of human nature.

The questioner in the crowd asks Jesus to be on his side in a dispute, just like Martha did

against her sister, just like pastors do all the time.

Whether it is getting paid in money or vindication, being rich or being right, I’m gonna

get mine.

That’s one popular voting principle and lifestyle choice.

Jesus follows his warning with a parable.

The land produced abundantly.

Someone who believed he owned the land—a concept that confuses Native

Americans and others who recognize land as a being, not a possession—assumed

that the land’s output belonged to him.

Instead of sharing or even selling the bounty, he decides to build bigger storage sheds to

keep it all.

Jesus then uses spiritual language to spice up the secular line of thought:

I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years: relax,

eat, drink, be merry.

It’s the American dream: so much wealth, hoarded and secured and materially enjoyed,

which satisfies the soul.

Of course, souls are not satisfied but such things, but the American lie is yes they are, if

you get enough.

Part of getting and keeping enough is voting for the candidate on your side, or the ideas

on the wall that will get you where you want to be.

A bigger church with more customers, I mean members.

A bigger budget with more dollars so that the finance committee can finally relax

and be merry.

A bigger ministry with more programs that will bring you glory and pride for being part

of visible success.

And maybe that’s exactly what God wants for Shepherd of the Valley in the future.

And maybe it’s not.

But does it matter what God wants if it doesn’t align with your vision?

Is this your church or God’s church?

Does your answer align with your votes?

I confess to you that the Living the Resurrection process is partially rigged.

It begins here, with members identifying what is most important to us.

But it doesn’t end here.

The next phase will take us out into the community.

It will move us beyond talking to ourselves to listening to our neighbors, the ones who

hunger for some of the abundance with which we have been entrusted.

We can wait for them to come, assuming they will be drawn and impressed by our shiny

barn and wanting to become just like us, but we know from other congregations

that that story ends in death, and then who gets our precious property?

Instead, the process will move us from essential, important, necessary clarity about who

we are and what we value to hear from others around us about what being God’s

ambassadors in West Hills should look like moving forward.

How will our abundance of goods and blessings help the world around us?

That story leads to life, being rich toward God in whom our true life is hidden and

held secure.

God is the one who creates land that produces abundantly for free.

God is the one who provides sunshine without tax or inflation.

God is the one who gives us breath and forgiveness we never earn.

God is the one who hears all of our prayers and loves us too much to say yes to

the exclusively selfish ones.

God is the one who has called us together to live differently, to live generously, to drop

Our agendas and pick up a cross until our egos start listening to our souls, which

will say to our egos, Egos, we have a lot of clutter to get rid of.

Let’s empty our barns and unload our burdens with others who need them.

Let’s let go of the axes we grind and the grudges we clutch.

Let’s give our goods away, like God our creator does, and then we will be merry indeed.

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