A PDF for easier printing 21 PENTECOST October 14, 2018
The Rev. Tom Bates
“Go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.
Today, I thought we would talk about the importance of the church and our support to it. I’ll talk a little about the Gospel Reading and internal life is one of the most important things that the church provides, but also there is some Gospel nformation that I think is important that you hear. A second thing, important to our spiritual life, is being in the presence of Christ which the church provides in its liturgy and prayer. Thirdly, I’ll mention briefly, transformation and how being a Christian makes us better people. Finally, a discussion to convince you that God is the owner of everything and we are His managers.
The importance of eternal life found in the Gospel reading is also found in the Gospel of Luke in the sending out of the 72. Jesus sent them out in pairs to visit the towns he intended to visit telling the people that the kingdom of God has finally come to you. And they were given the authority from Jesus to heal the sick and cast out demons. When they returned from their mission, the 72 were excited explaining to Jesus “even the demons are subject to us because we use your name.” And what was Jesus’ response? “Do not rejoice in the fact that the spirits are subject to you. Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” This was an important lesson for me and one I have to be reminded of periodically. I think what Jesus is telling is that it’s good to work miracles, do good work, but don’t get too excited about such things. If you want to know what to get excited about, it’s that your names are engraved in heaven.
Jesus’ challenge to the rich young man to go and sell everything he had and give it to the poor exposed the barrier that could keep him out of the kingdom of God that being his love of money. For many of us, money represented our pride of accomplishment and gives us power and prestige. And if that’s our attitude, we are violating the first commandment: “you shall have no other gods before me.”
We all remember that Jesus was tempted by Satan during his forty days in the wilderness. He was tempted to change stones into bread, he was tempted to throw himself off of high place to prove that the angels would protect him and he was tempted to worship Satan and Satan would give him dominion over everything. Three temptations that we all face: The desire for security, the desire for prestige (look what God did for me.) and the desire for control. We can get all that from money, but the challenge is not to let money become our god. So, to my way of thinking, we don’t have to sell everything and give it to the poor, we just need to use our wealth for good and not let money become more important to us than God. The ideal is to turn our whole life and heart over to God.
If we had read the entire 90th Psalm, we would have noticed that the theme was that our time on earth is limited and that we are to use it wisely, not living for the moment, but with our eternal home in mind.
In centering prayer, we are learning to spend time in God’s presence. From oneness in God comes freedom, life, creativity and the ability to love and serve more easily. At least that’s been the experience of those who have made centering prayer a priority in their lives. At this time, I would like to ask May Burton, how is the church important to your life.
I’ve mentioned several times the kingdom of God, the reign of God. I always thought of the Kingdom of God and as a place with God in charge. Thomas Keating says not so. The kingdom of God comes when we are transformed by God and we respond to one another with love and in so doing others become transformed and we are able to live in unity and peace. This is the kingdom of God on earth. Contemplative prayer helps us to see God’s vision for us and for many devoted to centering prayer that’s what they’ve seen as God’s vision for them.
In Lloyd Stilley’s sermon, “It’s All His Anyway”, he tells the story of a woman who had finished her shopping and returned to her car to find four men inside it. She dropped her shopping bags, drew a hand gun from her purse, and with a fore full voice said “I have a gun and I know how to use it. Get out of the car.” The men got out of the car and ran like crazy.
The woman, understandably shaken quickly loaded her shopping bags and got into the car. She just wanted to get out of there as fast as she could, but no matter how hard she tried, she could not get her key into the ignition.
Then it hit her. This isn’t my car. She looked and indeed, her car was five spaces away. She loaded the shopping bags into her own car and drove to the Police Station to turn herself in.
The four men were at the police station reporting a carjacking by a woman with glasses and curly white hair. Less than five feet tall and carrying a huge handgun. No charges were filed.
She thought it was her car, but it belonged to someone else. The truth is God owns everything. He’s the owner. We’re the managers of God’s creation. We’re like the porters who carry our bags to our hotel rooms. They are taking care of our bags but do not own them. We are taking care of God’s things, but do not own them. One day we will be accountable for how well we cared for God’s creation. We will be accountable for 1) Ourselves – where the Holy Spirit abides and our living sacrifice to God. 2) Our time and how wisely we used it. 3) Our possessions and the good we did with them. 4) Our talents and how we used them.
During this month our sermons are to touch on the spiritual discipline of stewardship to include finances and hear testimonies. My testimony is that the consciousness of Christ is transmitted to me each Sunday and Wednesday in the liturgy. Being in Christ presence has made me a better person, a more loving, patient, forgiving and generous person. I’m not there yet, but have made improvements. I’m proud to be an Episcopalian and a Christian. We‘ve built schools and hospitals and made the world a better place. A good church is an asset and a draw in the community. I’m proud of our loving, accepting, non-judgmental church and proud to support it.
How about you Larry? Has the church been important to you? Doctor Bell? Mary Burton?