Season After Pentecost, 2019 Year C : The Psalms Passage – Hope when you are known by the Divine

O LORD, you have searched me and known me.” (Psalm 139:1)

Because I am writing ahead, I am sitting down to write on the psalm passage on an evening when I am usually writing on an epistle passage. Hmmm . . . . Facing the enthusiastic psalmist or the exhorting apostle . . . . which sounds more appealing on a hot summer evening? But then I realized that the psalmist actually has me pegged – the Divine knows what my struggles are. Knows where I find joy and when I have to seek joy out. The Divine knows what brings me hope, and what can dash my hopes.

“You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, O LORD, you know it completely.” (Verses 2 – 4)

It is actually comforting to be known so well. Now, that may not be the case with everyone . . . being known so well by the Lord God. If their “fear of the Lord” is actually fear, it may be intimidating to be so well known by the Almighty Ultimately Holy Lord. What is needed is to know not only the Awesomeness of the Divine but to also know the compassion of the Divine, and the Unconditional Acceptance of the Divine. I do believe the psalmist knew the Lord God in that way.

“You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.” (Verses 5 – 6)

Maybe the psalmist is putting a little bit of hyperbole prose in this passage; if the psalmist speaks of the Lord God having this depth and breadth of knowledge, then he must be able to attain the knowledge. On the other hand, I had to remind myself that the Divine knows me that well. Maybe it is not knowledge that stays at the forefront of the human mind.

“For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.” (Verses 13 – 16)

Imagine, beloved reader, the Divine knew us before we had any concept of the Divine. When I was but an infant (you too) the Lord knew me, and knew who and what I would become. All the missteps I took to get to where I am, the Lord knew of. The long roads and emotional journeys. The things I had to learn over and over and over and over and over . . . . again.

Imagine too that the Divine knows (and knew) how I struggle with certain passages. Consider all that was put into place so that you and I would be where we are now. Even more so, that others who were part of our journey were also nurtured by the Divine; an intricate maze of people interacting with each other, all on their own journey but also interconnecting with each other so that the solo journeys were linked and dependent on each other.

“How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
I try to count them — they are more than the sand; I come to the end — I am still with you.” (Verses 17 – 18)

If for no other reason than that, we should never lose hope. Whatever journey you are on, beloved reader, you are not alone. It may seem that your path winds hither and yon, through slogging mud and delightful meadows; and the Divine is aware of all of it. How can it be that our missteps have the potential to lead us to exactly where we should be? NO, beloved reader, never lose hope! Selah!

Advertisements

Season After Pentecost, 2019 Year C : The Epistle Passage – Hope from the Master’s Hand

Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,
To Philemon our dear friend and co-worker, to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank my God because I hear of your love for all the saints and your faith toward the Lord Jesus.
I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we may do for Christ.” (Philemon 1:1 – 6)

I do not remember when I first read this epistle from Paul to Philemon; but if I am remembering correctly, my first impression was that it was like his other letters to area churches who were new in the faith. And would be shared with the group and passed from person to person. However, this is a more personal letter sent to an individual or, more likely based on the salutation, a specific household – Philemon’s. And it deals with a specific issue; not straight theology nor an issue of theological faith, but living out Christian ideals. And one ideal specifically. But Paul has ground work to lay first.

“I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, my brother. For this reason, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty, yet I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love–and I, Paul, do this as an old man, and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus.” (Verses 7 – 9)

Paul commends the recipient of the letter for the faith that Paul has heard of, and based on this faith, that Paul has certain expectations of how Philemon should and would act concerning this matter.

“I am appealing to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become during my imprisonment. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful both to you and to me. I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you. I wanted to keep him with me, so that he might be of service to me in your place during my imprisonment for the gospel; but I preferred to do nothing without your consent, in order that your good deed might be voluntary and not something forced.” (Verses 10 – 14)

Without the background of who Philemon and Onesimus were to each other, this was confusing for me to read. Even more so, because at the age I was when I read it, I had no idea that there were commentaries to explain books of the bible. (A note aside – I sometimes think that I grasped biblical concepts with greater ease WITHOUT commentaries and their sometimes confusing narratives. But having consulted with them enough, I return to them when I mistrust my own understandings ONLY to discover I had the right of it all along! But I digress. Sigh.) When I did gain an understanding of the back story, the letter made more sense.

“Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a beloved brother–especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.” (Verses 15 – 17)

Here Paul applies the subtle pressure. Onesimus has come to faith, and having faith is now considered an equal relative in the family of God and Jesus Christ. As Philemon would consider Paul as a relative to him under the Divine. Apparently, however, it was not always so. But now it is, and Paul wants Philemon to understand this . . . clearly.

“If he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand: I will repay it. I say nothing about your owing me even your own self.” (Verses 18 – 19)

Again, when I read this long ago it puzzled me. What would Onesimus owe Philemon or how would he have Philemon? And what sort of triangle of obligation or debt is Paul referring to?

“Yes, brother, let me have this benefit from you in the Lord! Refresh my heart in Christ.” (Verses 20)

Let me reassure you, beloved reader, I am now completely and fully aware of the nuances and implications of this passage and the letter in it entirety. The good news and salvation that comes from that news is highly prized by Paul. It is worth more than any one in a lifetime could accumulate. In fact, according to Paul, if a person had nothing but a assurance of salvation in their life, they would have more than any one unsaved but with gold, silver, and possession untold. Paul, in leading Philemon to faith, gave him this most cherished of gifts and blessings. And so Paul feels that he can call upon Philemon to indulge him and grant any favor that Paul might ask. Paul says, in affect, that because Philemon has shown such devotion to Christian living and principles his faith must be deep and firm – kudos and commendations to Paul. Therefore, Philemon knows the value of this faith. And he knows that others who have this faith must be valued and given equal status as Philemon perceives himself . . . and Paul.

So, we come to Onesimus . . . who has also received faith and salvation . . . and like Philemon is dear and valuable to Paul. And, but, & however . . . . Onesimus is/was Philemon’s slave. (And when I realized that, beloved reader, I was blown away! A Christian owned/still owned a slave!)

So Paul is sending Onesimus back. Not, however, as a slave but as a dear son of Paul and in Paul’s esteem. Equal, in Paul’s estimation, to Philemon. And Paul wants Philemon to consider Onesimus in the same way; not as a slave but as a brother and fellow believer in Christ.

What a position for Philemon to be in. And what a position for Onesimus to be in. What love and faith Onesimus must have in Paul. And what faith Onesimus must have in Philemon’s conversion to Christianity. And lastly, what faith Paul must have in Philemon’s continuation of authentic Christian living.

I talked about a triangle of obligation and debt that existed amongst these three people. Each presuming on faith that the other two would live up to expectations. But there is also hope – a concept we looked at two weeks ago. There is the reality of what happens when we stray from the ways and guidance of the Divine. And the hope we have that we will be welcomed back. The called and chosen people faced this reality, and nurtured the hope that the Divine would welcome then back. Onesimus faced this reality when he ran away. Paul gave him hope; first in the Lord God, and second that Philemon would welcome him back without punishment and recriminations. Paul based his hope on the value that Philemon gave to his salvation and his relationship to Paul.

Confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.” (Verse 21)

I do not know what happened between Philemon and Onesimus. One would “hope” that the slave was welcomed back with open arms, and became a brother and worker in in the labor of the household, and in the mission and evangelism that Philemon was a part of. That the position of master (hence the title) and slave might be redefined.

The story might conclude right there. However, Paul was never one to let things rest without a final nudge. And the following is not part of the lectionary, but I thought beloved reader you might find it interesting.

One thing more—prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping through your prayers to be restored to you. . . . The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” (Verses 22 & 25)

Make of that what you will, beloved reader. I know I did! Selah!

Season After Pentecost, 2019 Year C : The Epistle Passage – When terribly sad things happen to faithful and devoted believers

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days.
By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.
And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets– who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.” (Hebrews 11:29 – 34)

There are, beloved reader, more modern stories (ie. Stories of believers in Jesus Christ) of what the faithful had suffered. One of the books given to me during my teen years was a book about Christians who suffered for their faith. Some faith traditions are littered (in a good way) with stories of saints of the past who held firm to their faith. My own faith, Anabaptism is one such faith tradition that is so littered. All those stories are tragically sad, and a little disturbing. Not that Paul would have hesitated to disturb his readers. I don’t think the person who gave me the book of believers who suffered for their faith meant to disturb me either. But nonetheless, it gives one pain and pause.

“Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented– of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.” (Verses 35 – 38)

Paul was very much like these believers – cast about, forsaking simple comforts, and allowing him/themselves to oppressed and disregarded. Not all of these stories that Paul refers to in passing can be found in the current canonical bible. But they are recorded for those who seek out their stories. And why did they endure this? What outcome might they have hoped for or expected?

“Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.” (verses 39 – 40)

Here we have the last clue to what Paul is getting at; what was started by them in their time (the faithful devotion and adherence to belief) was/is completed in our time – or more precisely in the time period that Paul is writing in. Question – are we in our modern time included in this? Or we as believers in the 21st Century a part of different era?

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1 – 2)

There are few things sadder than running a race that you were never destined to win. These early believers, ie those before Jesus Christ, knew what it was like to adhere to faith and be devoted. Their stories are testament to that. But the faith that was/is most perfect was not yet revealed, and would not be revealed until Jesus Christ came. The advantage is to us, who live in the light of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, however, blessed are those who have not seen but still believe. He was referring to at the time those who would believe in him and the Divine who sent him without having known him personally and first hand. I believe that can apply equally to those who lived and died in faith before Jesus Christ. Yes, Paul is probably sputtering at that!

Beloved reader, it is not enough to know . . . . about who Jesus Christ and the Divine is. It really is not enough either to believe in their existence. What is called for . . . . is to reconstruct with the help of the Holy Spirit one’s entire life and align it would the Divine who sent Jesus Christ. And once aligned, to never ever sway from it. Sad, terribly sad tragic things may happen to us – but not nearly as tragic as to miss living out a life of faith. Selah!

Season After Pentecost, 2019 Year C : The Old Testament Passage – When sad things happen to a Good Loving Divine

I am at a decision point again concerning which Old Testament passage to use. Both passage are critical of the people of Israel and Judah. Isaiah compares them to a vineyard that was carefully and tenderly planted but something went wrong – terribly wrong.

“Let me sing for my beloved my love-song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes.
And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it? When I expected it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?” (Isaiah 5:1 – 4)

Jeremiah is speaking for the Lord God against the prophets of that time. The prophets, unlike Jeremiah, are not faithfully speaking the word of God but are created prophesy out of thin air and their own imaging. The Lord God (through Jeremiah) says that things are as bad as when Baal was worshiped instead of the Lord God. The implication is that the Israelites, before and while they were being formed as a called and chosen people, were seduced in the past and are being seduced now my false worship and the prophets are doing nothing to stem this inclination.

Am I a God near by, says the LORD, and not a God far off? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them? says the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the LORD. I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, “I have dreamed, I have dreamed!” How long? Will the hearts of the prophets ever turn back–those who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart? They plan to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, just as their ancestors forgot my name for Baal.” (Jeremiah 23:23 – 27)

In both passages the Lord God is determined to put an end to what has happened. Isaiah says,

“And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are his pleasant planting; he expected justice, but saw bloodshed; righteousness, but heard a cry!” (Verses 5 – 7)

And the Lord God through Jeremiah warns,

“Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let the one who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? says the LORD. Is not my word like fire, says the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” (Verses 28 – 29)

What we have to remember, beloved reader, is two things. First – The Lord God seeks to be in relationship with humanity and creation. “In the beginning” the Divine wanted to do something with the lifeless chaos we now call earth. Starting with bringing order and a system to the vastness, to coaxing life where there was not life, to creating humanity – the Divine wanted to create relationships. So it is vastly wounding (if you can wound the Divine) that humanity turns away and craves other things. Second – this is according to two humans who may or may not be point perfect in understanding the Divine and the motivations and sentiments of the Divine. We can and do know that the Divine seeks relationship because Jesus Christ was sent. But knowing the sentiments of the Divine during the times of Isaiah and Jeremiah – that is a little more challenging. Test it out for yourself, beloved reader. Take the invitation to be in relationship with the Lord God and Jesus Christ. Discern for yourself what the Trinity wants. I can guarantee you, you will bring joy to the Divine by reaching out! Selah!

Season After Pentecost, 2019 Year C : The Psalm Passage – Preacher and Seeker talk about hearing in scripture what the Divine is saying

Seeker: “The mighty one, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.
Preacher: “Our God comes and does not keep silence, before him is a devouring fire, and a mighty tempest all around him.”

Seeker: Preacher, this passage in the RCL is coupled with the passage from Isaiah chapter 1 verses 10 to 20. It seems like the same frustration and high emotion that the writer of Isaiah says the Lord God has is also in this passage from psalms. There must have been a strong and lasting sentiment within the people, or at least these representative speakers, that the Divine was very upset with the called and chose people.
Preacher: “He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people: “Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!” The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge. Selah”
Yes, Seeker, the image of the Lord God in the people’s minds got very angry when those who professed to follow the Divine blatantly showed they were not. Their attitudes towards the standards of worship and relating to others showed they did not care about either thing.
“Hear, O my people, and I will speak, O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God.
Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me.
“Mark this, then, you who forget God, or I will tear you apart, and there will be no one to deliver.”
Seeker: “Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me; to those who go the right way I will show the salvation of God.” ( Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23)
Preacher:
Exactly, Seeker; they had not learned yet that more important that what they placed before or on the altar were who they were and what they did away from the altar. That is as true now as it was then. Abraham in the Genesis passage that the RCL also cites for this week, and the corresponding psalm passage for this week speak to us about this. “Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage. The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all humankind. From where he sits enthroned he watches all the inhabitants of the earth– he who fashions the hearts of them all, and observes all their deeds.”
Seeker:
It seems as if when the called and chosen people of the Divine swayed from following the Divine as their King at a distance to follow an earthly king as their leader – that the lines of communication were garbled and the people lost sight of what they should do and be.
Preacher: The Judges, you know them from that book in the bible, tried to explain and emulate what the Divine was saying. But their fallibility and the politics of the time made if very hard. They wanted some above and over them rather than someone living with/amongst them to give them direction. And to have a mighty hand. But they perceived in a way the value of military might. “A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might it cannot save.” Consider that it was only for one or two generations that King David was able hold together the kingdom and run it as the Lord God would see fit; and even then David made some mistakes. But he tried to maintain being a “man after God’s own heart.” “Truly the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.”
Seeker:
Then theologically it was no happenstance that Jesus the Christ came to live amongst the disciples. That Jesus was like a “judge” who instructed them right from wrong, and was subject to humanness as they were. But he was also Divine and kept the lines of communication between himself and the Divine who sent him – of course he was the Divine. But he emulated the type of intimate relationship that one needs to have with the Lord God.
Preacher: “Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and shield. Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” (Psalm 33:12-22)
Yes, Seeker. This the way it was intended. The Lord God called out Abraham, and he “grew up” in the Lord God as we are too. The psalmist exhorts us to be in close relationship to the Divine. And Paul exhorts us to enfold and lose our lives in the Lord God. Between scripture and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you’d think we’d get it right. But we don’t. The important things – the investing in the eternal thing – is to keep trying, and keep listening to and for the voice of the Divine. Selah!

Season After Pentecost, 2019 Year C : The Psalm Passage – Preacher and Seeker praise the “standard” steadfast love of the Divine’s

Seeker: “O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.”
Preacher:
We read in the Old Testament portion that the Lord God was hurt in the Divine’s heart that the Israel people had wandered and strayed from their beginnings. That they had turned their backs on their Lord God who had called them out and sought to bless them and guide their lives. But they did not want guidance, and in their arrogance chose those things that were opposed to the will and direction of their God. Now whether their troubles and burdens came because they abandoned God, or because they were victimized by the larger nations around them – I do not know. But in their time of trouble they called on the Lord God to give them hope and deliverance.
Seeker: “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, those he redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.”

Preacher: Now the land of Israel and Judah was good land, and for the people of Israel and Judah there were generations where they proposed and grew. Maybe because the Lord God did bless them, or maybe because their practicality and determined ways paid off – I do not know. They were not the only nations, however that grew large, fat, and rich. You know success attracts attention, develops jealousy, avarice, and envy. The kings of the nations around them suffered from that, as did the kings of Israel and Judah. Many stories in the Old Testament are about the tug of how has control and power over who, and who is left to forage for simple existence.
Seeker: “Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to an inhabited town; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress; he led them by a straight way, until they reached an inhabited town.”

Preacher: We think our modern times are so different. That we are above grasping and grappling for what we see other have. We read about that too, having over abundance and being determined to keep what we feel is rightfully ours and to clasp to ourselves that which we really do not need. And to ignore the needs of others. I tell you, we Christians should share what we have, and what the Lord God has given to us. Both our blessings and the grace that the Divine has shown us.
Seeker: “Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. For he satisfies the thirsty, and the hungry he fills with good things.”
Preacher:
There is in our world thirst and hunger. And I will be the first to admit that many go hungry and thirsty. But I tell you, that is not what the Lord God intends. Economist and sociologists tell us there would be enough for all, if those who have much would share with those who have nothing. I don’t if that is true – maybe if we reconfigured what our “standard of living” is, everyone would have an equal amount. But you and I know that is probably not going to happen. There is, however, enough love and compassion within the Divine for everyone to have more than they need. That may not feed the belly, but it would feed the soul. And if enough souls are feed to move hearts to compassion and open coffers and bulging barns, everyone belly could be satisfied. As I said, it may not happen in this world. But be assured!!! It will happen in the world to come! Selah!
Seeker: “Let those who are wise give heed to these things, and consider the steadfast love of the LORD.” (Psalm 107:1-9, 43)

Season After Pentecost, 2019 Year C : The Gospel Passage – The standards of living that we have & that the Divine has

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.” (Luke 12:13 – 15)

I was at the airport the day I sat down to write on this; I was waiting for someone’s flight to come in. And as I was waiting I was watching people come and go in the airport. With new regulations, air travel is getting more complicate – in all sorts of ways. This time I was pondering on luggage, and the need to pack as lightly as one can to avoid paying baggage fees. And I was thinking, how can people get all of the things they must need for a trip in such a small bag! Now I did not know how far they were traveling or how long they would be away; I saw luggage that would barely hold a change of clothes and overnight wear, much less the needed items for cleansing and bathing in the morning!

I know I am “baggage” challenged; I just cannot pack very light. I shudder to think how I would manage packing for an airplane flight! When I was young, I carried a huge purse because I felt I needed to be prepared for all sorts of emergencies if/when I was away from home. It has taken me years to downsize my purse! So, I am thinking if/how these verses apply to my people watching and my own need ensure I am prepared for just about any emergency. And I am not convinced that these verses are germane to the situation. But it is a good thought exercise. And as we see, Jesus’ parable does narrow the focus.

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.’ “ (Verses 16 – 19)

First, beloved reader, my purse size is NOT parallel to the rich man tearing down old barns and building new ones – so let’s just get that out of the way! Second, the implication is that the man’s lands produced far more than he needed for his own sustenance and for the length of one growing season. And let me add one of the reasons I carry such a well supplied purse is so that I can not only meet my own needs but can meet the needs of others – whatever they might need in an emergency. The rich man clearly had not intentions of sharing his abundance with others. Anyone who knows me knows that I will lend out just about anything to someone in need!

“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.” (Verses 20 – 21)

One of the things that life and living has taught me is to hold my possessions lightly. But to also secure my possession from those with harmful intent. It is a very delicate balancing act, and something that I continue to work at. I could digress and talk at great length about this issue. But Jesus points to the important points. We need to secure that which is important to our continued existence, so that we can provide for ourselves and those who are dependent on us. It does us and the circle of humanity no good if we do not have what is needed in good times and bad. BUT that means we need to SHARE what we have, in good times and bad. Our abundance should be good news for others, that we are willing to meet their needs as well as our own.

May you, beloved reader, share with others and not reserve the greater part for yourselves and ignore the needs of others. Selah!