Pentecost 19(Proper 21),Year C

Pentecost 19(Proper 21),Year C

The LCA provides this sermon edited for lay-reading, with thanks to the original author.

Pentecost 19(Proper 21),Year C

1 Timothy 6:6-10

How can we enjoy money? The simplest answer is to thank God for it and everything it enables us to do! How often do we make a list of all the good things we enjoy that are bought with our money? We have more than the majority of people in the world. Statisticians tell us that nine out of ten people in the world are poorer than we are in this country. We have more reasons to praise and thank God than most other people on earth.

The Scripture Readings for today have a lot to say about money and riches. We need to be careful. It would be easy to say, “Money is evil!” when the Scriptures clearly say it is the love of money that is bad. “For the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil.” Money isn’t evil in itself. It is a thing. One can enjoy it or abuse it.

It would be possible to find some pensioners or welfare dependent people who are mean, greedy, selfish and real misers who would take your money if given half a chance. On the other hand,it would be equally possible to find wealthy people who are extremely generous and caring, and have a heart that reaches out to help poor people.

Abraham is the great example of faith in the Bible. He was also one of the richest people in the world. When it came to owning land, he let his greedy nephew take the fertile country and Abraham was thankful to God for the worst.

On the other hand, the Lazarus in the Gospel reading for today is not great because he is poor, but because of his close friendship with God;in fact, his name ‘Lazarus’ means, ‘God is my helper.’ In his wretched poverty Lazarus sees God as his helper. When the dogs come and lick his sores, he sees God coming to minister to his needs.

The sickest man in today’s parable is actually the ‘Rich Man’. He suffers from a disease called ‘greed’ that gets into the muscles of the arms of some people. Their hands can never stop grasping for more. It can hit both poor and rich people. The grasping for more can’t be stopped! One can’t sleep easily when one has this dreadful disease, fearing one might miss out on some money, or might lose out on a deal that is on offer. Jesus was free of this grasping disease. Jesus is about the most famous person who ever lived on our earth, yet he was poorer than you and me. But he was rich in his loving concern for people and their many needs. He was rich in his faith in the Father. To have Jesus is to be free of the terrible grasping disease.

A group of seniors were asked what cheered them up and made them feel good on any day during the week. Their responses were things like:

  • Nature – a walk in the bush to enjoy the scenery and the flora.
  • The sound of the breeze blowing through a willow tree.
  • The joy of growing flowers in the garden and enjoying the unique beauty of the plants and their flowers.
  • The birds – including lorikeets, rosellas, kookaburras, magpies and even the crows.
  • Music.
  • Children and grandchildren.
  • A smile, and a hug - these two are not expensive, but they can be rare at times!

Not one mentioned money as bringing great joy and lifting their spirits during the week. There is much more joy in life, apart from money.

Jesus rescued people from their love of money. Just look at Zacchaeus – the one who used to cheat people out of their money through false taxes. Jesus visited him at his home, had a meal with him, and turned him round and he became a very generous man. Money is just a thing. It is not evil in itself. It depends how we use it, and whether we let it get control of our thinking and our love.

Jesus comes to live in us so we can enjoy life. We can even have the joy of sharing what we have with people who are in desperate need of financial help, maybe just to buy some food. Look at the amount of junk mail we get in our letterboxes. It is a sign of how wealthy we are. Nobody hands out free junk mail to the poorest people in the world. The poor know what they will do with their money if they get some. They will buy food and maybe a pair of shoes, and maybe dream of owning a bike of their own!

Who would want to swap places with a miser? They live miserable lives. They hide every cent away so no one else knows about it. Maybe it gives them some sense of power. And they leave it all behind when they leave this earth.

How can we enjoy money? Thank God for it. Share it with people in need. Use it to make the world a better place for everyone. There are people both rich and poor who are miserable to be with.

And then there are people both rich and poor who are always a joy to be with. It all depends on the attitude of their hearts.

What are some practical ways we can enjoy life more this week? Look at God’s gifts to us in nature. They cost us nothing. The birds and the flowers are God’s little miracles to spark up our days. Andlook at our friend Jesus: what a joy that he comes to live with us this week, and in the weeks to come!

Let us pray:

O Holy Spirit, open our eyes to the many good things in life this week. Fill our hearts with the joy to live each day as children of the Father who loves us and provides for all our needs. In the name of Jesus.