Tumbling in the Sand
“And [Jesus] 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 12:15
I am not preaching this week. It feels kind of strange, actually, to not be preaching on these texts, which were the first texts I ever preached back in college. And somehow, since that time 15 years ago, I’ve been preaching these texts almost every subsequent time they’ve come up in the lectionary. It’ll be good to hear someone else say something about them. I’m kind of out of new ideas.
Actually, the best sermon I ever heard on these texts was a children’s sermon that a member at Peace Lutheran in Knoxville, TN “preached.” Her props were a garbage bag and bubbles. She told the kids that she loved bubbles (And asked if they liked bubbles, too…which, really, who doesn’t like bubbles?). She then said that she was going to keep all the bubbles to herself so that she had the most bubbles in the world and that they would all belong to her. As she said this, she began blowing the bubbles into the garbage bag. After a little maniacal laughter, some continued plotting and bubble blowing, and time, she asked the kids if they wanted to see all her bubbles that she was keeping. They wanted to, of course. When she opened the garbage bag, however, there were no bubbles there.
The point, made before she even began was clear—when we try to grab on to things, to keep them to ourselves, we don’t actually get any joy from them. Even more to the point, they are destroyed by our grasping. And even more to the point, some things are best enjoyed by sharing them with others.
The children’s sermon was ended by blowing bubbles so that everyone could have fun with them.
Here’s the thing that strikes me about this this time, though. God’s gifts aren’t meant to be enjoyed tomorrow … they’re meant for today, for the present, for right now.
I hope that you don’t think I’m saying that we shouldn’t save for the future. That’s not what I mean. But, what I mean is, in our saving for the future, we shouldn’t be stingy with the present moment—because, really, that’s what we’ve got. And even better than that, that is where the beauty is. That’s where the glistening rainbow of a bubble is. That’s where God is.
Jesus was talking to two brothers who were fighting over an inheritance. This is so sad to me—you’d think that the death of their parents might make them more aware of how short life is, and how precious and fragile a gift that the other brother’s present presence was to each other. Instead, they are grasping for things, being stingy with the present, missing out on the beauty that is right there—the rainbow, the promise glistening in front of them—God’s great gift to them of each other.