Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A 6 year old sermon... for next Sunday...

Do you remember what you wanted to be when you were a little kid? Did you want to be a fire fighter and slide down the pole in the firehouse? Did you imagine yourself riding on the hook and ladder truck? Did you want to be the one who rode up front, a Dalmatian at your side as you sounded the siren and raced to help people in need?

Did you want to be teacher? Surrounding yourself with invisible students or stuffed animals or younger siblings - giving them assignments and reading to them in that upside book way that only teachers have?

Did you picture yourself as a famous athlete? Did you practice your swing? Did you practice your autograph? What would it say on your baseball card?
Or were you a famous singer? Crooning into your hairbrush and practicing your moves in front of a full length mirror?
What did you want to be when you were a kid?

My guess is that whatever you imagined yourself to be, you weren’t too worried about the paycheck. Your dreams were based on adventure... or fun... or modeling what mom and dad were doing. Your ideas of what you wanted to be when you grew up had more to do with joy than they did with money. You wanted to do something that made you happy. It’s only as we get older that we begin to concern ourselves with thoughts of career and salary. When you’re a little kid, your dreams are about fun and excitement. You race inside from a day of discovery to announce to all who would listen, “Look what I can do.”
And a weary grown up voice asks, “And how much an hour do you think they’ll pay you to do that?”
If you’re young enough, the answer is, “Who cares! A hundred dollars! A million dollars! Does it matter? Look what I can do!” But if you’re older, you begin to think- hmmm…. "How much money can I make?"
All too often we measure the worth of an accomplishment by what it can earn us. We forget that there are other standards that can give our lives value and merit.

In his letter to Timothy, Paul calls his young friend to see what is really important in life. Remember, he says, “we brought nothing into this world and we take nothing out... And the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”
Instead of worrying about paychecks and investments, Paul directs Timothy to pursue righteousness and godliness. Faith and love. Endurance and gentleness. Paul calls Timothy to measure the success of his life not in monetary terms but by how well he has served the gospel and our Lord Jesus Christ. Because that is where his true joy can be found.
Paul ends his letter by saying, “As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.”

In our gospel for today, Jesus is sending home the same message. He tells the parable of the rich man and Lazarus to the Pharisees, whom Luke describes as “lovers of money.” And Jesus want all of us to understand how wealth should be used. It’s a lesson not on the evil of money, but on priorities.

In today’s readings we are confronted with an important question, and it is not “Are you rich or are you poor?” as if one or the other would make us a morally better than the other.
The question is not “How much do you have?” but “How much do you care?” And the Lord is very clear in saying, that the message he is bringing is the same one that God has been promoting since the days of Moses and the prophets.

God is on the side of the poor, the outcasts, the prostitutes and tax collectors, widows, orphans, lepers, those whose bodies are twisted and those who cannot see. God cares about them and wants to gather them in to ease their pain and sorrow. And Jesus is calling us to care about them as well.

We are invited to be concerned with issues of justice and righteousness. We are to be sharing what we have with those who are in need. We are to care for the Lazarus at our gate. His welfare is to be our concern. And in caring for those who are in need, we are teaching Christian behavior to those who witness our deeds of kindness.

One of my favorite church songs from childhood says, “God loves a cheerful giver, give it all you’ve got. He loves you when you’re happy, and he loves you when you’re not.”
But I have never found that giving does anything but make you cheerful.

When we were kids, we dreamed of a happy grown up life. A life of adventures and new discoveries.

We weren’t worried about the market. Or our IRA’s. We weren’t too concerned about what kind of salary we’d make. Or what the boss might think of us. We just wanted to do something that made us happy.

Having made it to the grown up world, I have found that what makes me happy, what gives me joy, is serving God. And being in community with his people. Each of us, in our daily lives, have the chance to find our happiness in living the love of Christ. Each of us meets people every day who are yearning to find the life that really is life. Each of us has the chance to cheerfully give and share.

It’s not what you earn that brings you joy, it’s what you do with it.

Remember, it’s not how much you have, it’s how much you care.


Hot Cup Lutheran said...

nicely done... grab a good book now, put your feet up and relax.

RevHRod said...

Thanks! I'm actually not preaching this Sunday. But I found this last week and I still liked it. (That doesn't always happen.)

Kathryn said...

I'm really grateful that you posted this...I suspect I may lean on it heavily, if you don't mind too much.
Have had 2 funerals and a long death bed vigil this week, a wedding tomorrow and creative worship for the youth group AND a service for the confused elderly as well as my Sunday morning sermon to sort...and I don't feel as if I've much left at the moment....

RevHRod said...


Feel free to lean as heavily as you need to. And blessings on your weekend!

Diane said...

yes, nicely done...
there's an old gordon bok song that has the refrain, "It's not how much you're given, but what you do with what you've got."