Sermon for Pentecost 8 – 7.31.22

+ 8th Sunday after Pentecost – July 31st, 2022 +

Series C: Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14, 2:18-26; Colossians 3:1-11; Luke 12:13-21

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“Christ’s Treasures”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Havel havelim. Vanities piled on top of vanities. Emptiness. Nothing. Vapor. All is vanity. Wealth, fame, celebrity, power…all of it. Vanity. Nothing. Chasing after the wind.

You clean the house and by the time you’re done more messes have mysteriously appeared. You build a home, care for it, and one day sell it, only to have the next owner after you trash it beyond recognition. The rich man and the poor man, no matter how fancy a casket they have, both eventually find themselves six feet under.

This is what Solomon calls vanity of vanities. A chasing after the wind. It all sounds rather depressing doesn’t it. And apart from God’s gifts to us in all things in life; and apart from God’s gifts to us in and through Jesus – that’s exactly what life is. Empty. Meaningless. A vanity of vanities.

And yet, Solomon also reminds us, “There is nothing better for a person that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God.

There’s the key to Solomon’s words and Jesus’ parable of the rich fool from Luke 12 this morning. All meaning and joy and value in life is given and found in the one who is greater than Solomon, the one to whom Solomon’s wisdom points us – Christ, the wisdom of God in the flesh. Apart from Christ, everything is vanity of vanities. Empty. Meaningless. Chasing after the wind.

In Christ, however, everything – even the fleeting, temporary things of this life –are gifts from the hand of God.

A man in the crowd came up to Jesus. “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” Two brothers are bickering over their dead father’s inheritance. Their time of grieving was brief. Bury the old man and divvy up his portfolio. All his hard-earned assets and wise investments was now in the hands of two bickering fools. Jesus will have nothing to do with it. “Man, who made me a judge or arbiter over you? I came to save the world by dying and rising. I came to be judged, and I will come to judge the living and the dead by my own life and death. I came to save you, and you’re concerned about your savings account?”

The man in the crowd completely missed the point. “Jesus’ ministry isn’t the incidental patching up of injustices. Rather it is the bearing of the final injustice – death – and the raising up from it an entirely new and reconciled creation” (Robert Farrar Capon).

“Take care, be on guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions,” Life as in the whole of one’s existence and being, all of life – body and soul. This man in the crowd’s life. His disciples’ lives. Your life. This is what Jesus cares about. And he cares enough about our life – the whole of it – to warn us against covetousness. Similar to the old word avarice. The unfulfilled longing for more. The hunger that is never satisfied. The thirst that is ever slaked. The void that we can never seem to fill. Oh, but that doesn’t stop us from trying does it. We live in a world that only seems to enable our addictions. With a click or a scroll or a tap of the screen we’re promised instant wealth, power, fame, love, friendship, meaning.

Reminds me of a conversation in Dante’s Inferno, as he walks through the third circle of hell, his guide, Virgil says, “Envy and arrogance and avarice are the three sparks that have all hearts enkindled.”

Covetousness. Greed. These are masks of a much deeper problem. Symptoms of a much more deadly disease. Idolatry. A self-absorbed love. It’s not the stuff, the possessions, the wealth, or God’s gifts in creation that are the problem. The problem is the sinful heart that places those things at the center.

So Jesus warns us to watch carefully what it is that we fear, love, and trust in. Coveting leads to idolatry. Idolatry leads to death. Idols consume their communicants from the inside, leaving an empty shell of nothingness at the core of your being. This is life without God, life uncentered, life without  Christ in the middle.

But this is not your life. Your life is hidden with God in Christ. You are created in Christ, redeemed in Christ, made holy in Christ. In Christ you have all good things. Without Him at the center of your being, your identity, all you do and all you have will be vanity of vanities, nothing, empty, a chasing after wind.

That was the problem for the rich fool in Jesus’ parable…‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and I will store all my grain and my goods there. And I will say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years to come; relax, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself!”

My crops, my barns, my soul, my grain, my goods. He never knew once prayed “give us this day our daily bread,” to acknowledge God as the Giver of the gifts. He never once confessed that God had made Him and all creatures, that God in His fatherly divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in him, had provided clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, land, and crops. He never once gave thanks to the Lord for He is good.

And that’s the problem Jesus is addressing for us here in Luke 12. The fool in the story is a fool in the biblical sense of the word; one who’s life is not centered in Christ and his gifts. The fool in his heart says there is no god. The fool thinks that all he has is his and his alone. The fool chases after the wind. Vanity of vanities.

But this is not who you are in Christ. You who were foolish have been made wise. You are baptized in Christ. Christ is the center. Your life is hidden with Christ in God. Christ the center of your work, your play, your worship, your wealth, your possessions. Christ lived life under the sun for you. He worked, He rested, He bled and died for you. He took upon himself all our covetousness, envy, greed, and sin. His death was not a vanity of vanities but a holy of holies. He redeems and reconciles and raises up your work out of its emptiness and meaninglessness.

Your land, your house, your wealth, your barns and silos, your grain, your profits and portfolios, everything is God’s, not yours. They’re all on loan from God. You are stewards, caretakers. Even our lives are not our own. You are not your own. You’ve been bought with a price. The life of Jesus, His blood, His death. He became poor that you might be rich in His dying and rising. You are God’s treasured possession, enabling you to hold your treasured possessions with the dead hand of faith – offering, sharing, giving. Rejoicing.

This is what it means to be rich in towards God. To realize and rejoice that our life – all of life – consists in receiving all that Christ’s gives us. And in Christ, your faith is not in vain.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

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Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977