Here is the Sermon for Sunday 29th September - it may or may not be what I actually preach today! But the general theme is there!
A reflection on the Rich Fool (Luke 12: 13-21)
13 A man in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide with me the property our father left us." 14 Jesus answered him, "Friend, who gave me the right to judge or to divide the property between you two?" 15 And he went on to say to them all, "Watch out and guard yourselves from every kind of greed; because your true life is not made up of the things you own, no matter how rich you may be." 16 Then Jesus told them this parable: "There was once a rich man who had land which bore good crops. 17 He began to think to himself, "I don't have a place to keep all my crops. What can I do? 18 This is what I will do,' he told himself; "I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, where I will store the grain and all my other goods. 19 Then I will say to myself, Lucky man! You have all the good things you need for many years. Take life easy, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself!' 20 But God said to him, "You fool! This very night you will have to give up your life; then who will get all these things you have kept for yourself?' " 21 And Jesus concluded, "This is how it is with those who pile up riches for themselves but are not rich in God's sight."
This time last year... do you remember this time last year?
We were lamenting the poor harvest; we had so much rain that crops were rotting in the fields; nothing was ripening; and everyone felt really down because the summer had been long and wet and cold.
Fast forward to this year!! What a difference!A warm and wet spring gave way to a long hot summer, with just enough rain to keep everything growing, and now there is a bumper harvest – the beast season for all sorts of things for quite some time.
It’s been the same in the manse garden too; you’ve all received the courgettes; and some have also had tomatoes; and broccoli and caulis and tatties.... now as the season is changing the fruit trees are heavy laden; the tomatoes are falling over they are so heavy; we have apples and pears in abundance – for anyone who cares to come and collect them!
Today’s parable about the Rich Fool, is the one designated for Harvest celebrations in the lectionary; and to my mind it just seemed to fit in with the present glut our gardens are experiencing.
I could so easily fall into that category of let’s get another freezer so we can have apples and pears all through the winter, without considering sharing them with others; and the plenty I have isn’t necessarily just the fruits of our own labours on the land either.
Think of all the things we work hard for; our homes; our families; to have a little money set aside for a rainy day. We go out to work; we give or time our talents and our service – and we are rewarded accordingly. What we do with our wages – whether you work for the minimum or indeed you have more than you need – what we do with what we earn is up to us.
The other thing we were doing this time last year was celebrating our church family; our church community as we began our Stewardship Campaign. Some of you will remember it well; others will remember the meal; the entertainment – and maybe that it was “just the Kirk asking for money again”.
Stewardship is not about fundraising.Let me say that again!!
Stewardship is not about fundraising.
Fundraising is the gathering together of funds for a specific purpose or project – but the church isn’t a project! The church isn’t something that just needs money to be thrown at it. The church is much, much more than that.
Another thing stewardship isn’t: it isn’t something that rears its head every few years and we just ignore meantime. Stewardship is about every aspect of our lives – day in day out. Stewardship is about prayerfully using the resources we have to hand. One year a rich full harvest; another year things may not be so good. Stewardship means we use our wealth: every aspect of wealth, carefully and considerately. No spare money? Use your time and talents! Not much spare time – ok then, what can you do? Be honest with yourself – because God knows the answer!! God asks us to be generous, not greedy; to be to be happy with what we have, not to yearn for what we want.
The Rich Fool missed the point about stewardship and about generosity.
Jesus began the parable with a statement: "Watch out and guard yourselves from every kind of greed; because your true life is not made up of the things you own, no matter how rich you may be."
In the same way that the Rich Fool, thought because he had so much he could kick back take an easy ride and not make any effort; we too can fall into that trap.
We are asked to be good stewards; all that we have is not ours to squander, we are trusted by God with what we have; trusted to use it well; to manage it; to grow it if we can. We can of course, use what we have for our own needs, but if we can share some of that bounty along the way then we are sharing God’s riches; sharing God’s blessing.
The end of the summer; the start of the autumn wind down into winter is a good time for taking stock; what do we have; what do we need; what can we spare?
We give thanks for the glorious spring and summer season; we store up supplies for winter and we share the excess with those who have not.
And. We give thanks for all the ways God blesses us; for the challenges we face and conquer; for the difficulties that arise and the blessings that come from trusting in God.
We can choose to be a Rich Fool, who holds it all back ‘just in case’ but never really enjoys the fruits of his labours
Or we can be a Fool for Jesus – willing to trust and share from what we have – the fruits of all our different labours – a rich, rich harvest of plenty.