HOMILY; 17 FEB 19 LEIGHMOOR UC
There is a fundamental culture clash between those who put their trust in God and those who pursue, fame wealth and fortune!
What differentiates between those of us who profess a belief in Christianity and those who don’t?
We mostly all have the same sort of jobs with the same pay. We live in similar sorts of houses with the same sort of mortgages. WE all drive similar looking cars and send our kids to the same sort of schools while we go to the same sort of holidays as each other. We have similar spending habits too, buying the various consumer goods as each other.
Our Bible references speak of there being two significantly different ways of living, a way that is blessed, but at odds with the world around us and a way that goes with the majority but leads to ruin.
Down through the ages, I guess that Jesus’ words about ‘blessed are you who are poor’ and ‘woe to you who are rich’ has been causing his followers to look for loopholes ever since he spoke them.
We have Luke’s words in front of us today but the better known Matthew’s Gospel version has some softening of the blow of these words. Matthew says :’Blessed are the poor in spirit’ and ‘Blessed are you who hunger for righteousness’.
It is still hard to explain how one can be poor in spirit while focussing a lot of time and energy on trying to be at least as well off as those around us. We may not feel wealthy and there is a huge industry that keeps suggesting that we are not there yet.
The Friendship Book 2014, for January 2 has this to say of relevance to us. “If you have never been in war, imprisoned or suffered from starvation, then you are better off than five hundred million other people. If you can read, then you are better off than the two billion who are unable to do so. If you can attend a church without fear of harassment, or worse, then you are better off than three billion people in the world.
If you have food in the fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, then you are richer than three-quarters of your fellow human beings. If you have money in the bank or your wallet or purse, then you are among the top eight per cent of the world’s wealthy” When it comes to counting your blessings, there is no ‘but’ about it, we in Australia are mostly rich.
Rev Nathan Nettleton from the Baptist church, South Melbourne says that If we take the words of Jesus simply at face value then he is saying “it is spiritually good to be in the bottom half of the spectrum and spiritually disastrous to be in the top half”. What do we make of this when the likes of me and suppose many of you too are in the top half of the top half of the top half?
If we are comfortable in the top half of the top half why do so many of us often feel anxious about keeping our heads above water and act like we are struggling to make ends meet?
My impression is that most congregations today in the long standing denominations are in situations more like Luke’s world who had wealth, were full, and laughing, and were in good social standing according to the standards of the old age. Only a few contemporary Christians and congregations are hated. A bomb or two were recently thrown in to a worshipping church service in the Philippines. It does happen.
Those pursuing wealth and comfort have put their faith in something other than what Jesus calls us to put our faith in. We are also told ‘We cannot serve two masters”.
There is just so much greed and dishonesty out in the business jungle, worldwide. When the Iraq Gulf war erupted it was a British newspaper asked: “Where to invest our money if it’s war in the Gulf?” [Which war was among the oil wells].
When the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred , the USA leaders implored New Yorkers to shop, shop, shop so to power up their economy. We in Victoria have noted the report received from the Royal Commission into banking practises. Why did the Bank shares then increase? It seems that the expected penalties will be light on.
The accumulation of possessions is an insidious addiction making it impossible for us to embrace things that are the way to salvation.
Jesus invited the rich and poor to follow him. His message is one of reconciliation of all to all but he is also being very realistic about the fact that some have the inside running and some don’t. ”Blessed are you.. Woe to you..”.
At Leighmoor we have some challenging times ahead. Our Minister and his wife are retiring at year end. At present levels of giving we will run through the cash reserves too quickly if we want a full time replacement. If we don’t adequately maintain our buildings they will end up not being usable. WE are short of sufficient volunteers to carry all the tasks of running the Parish.
There is much need of services in our community where Leighmoor may be able to host, like some floor space when the Men’s shed make their move. What as individuals are we able to offer to allow our welcoming friendly Parish have an increased outreach to our community?
I cannot answer that but let me finally give you an example:-“There was a mailman, John Hand, who drove his mail truck through some hills in California some 80 kilometres each day. The route was plain, all brown and virtually no colour. One day he began to throw out wild flower seeds out his window as he drove. Today you’ll find beautiful patches of flowers throughout blossoming in many colours.
We all travel different roads, have different skills, be it with our families, at work, wherever. Can we be a catalyst for change? Can we sow the seeds of love, joy, righteousness and all the fruits of the Holy Spirit? As we sow them throughout our daily lives, those dull, dry landscapes will begin to blossom into something beautiful and we will be remembered as the ones who sowed those seeds.
Quite finally, this is called “Reflections”
At the close of life
The question is
Not how much you have got
But how much you have given
Not how much you have won
But how much you have done
Not how much you have saved
But how much you have sacrificed
Not how much you were honoured
But how much you have Loved and served.”