Sermon – Pentecost 8 – August 4, 2019
Luke 12:13-21 ‘Chasing Rabbits’
CT: Whether we have been blessed with much or little, in Christ we are given riches that do not depend on having or not having, but His strength to bring us home.
Intro: Racing greyhounds is the craziest thing to watch as all these dogs break out of gate and go for all they’re worth chasing a fake rabbit; a stuffed bunny they will never catch. And they do it again, again, and again. Of course we’d never get caught up in pointless ventures; in what Solomon calls a chasing after the wind, would we? “Vanity of vanities…all is vanity!” But we do! I see entire families so busy chasing rabbits that they barely have time to be a family. There’s always one more event, one more place to go, one more hour of work to get that one more toy or pay off last month’s bills.
Contentment or Greed: The man in Jesus’ parable had a brief moment of contentment as he looked out over his land and the harvest. But his contentment quickly turned to worry: “What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store all my crops?” What a problem to have! But it’s like a children’s story I used to read to my kids about a dinosaur called the hordasourus; he so much stuff he couldn’t rest a wink keeping track of it all and worrying about how to keep it. Then his friend, the Glink, helped him give stuff away, share with those who had none, and introduced him to the bank, who would keep some things on deposit. Finally the Glink could get some rest, because no one sleeps in a house where there’s a restless dinosaur!
We too have our moments of contentment; milestone events that mark a graduation, promotion, or wedding, the birth of a child, a Baptism of a baby, an anniversary, or a retirement party, where we look on with a sense that all is well. And then the speed at which we arrived at those moments leaves us worried about the future. There’s no guarantee that tomorrow will be as good, even our best laid plans are subject to change.
My Answer: The farmer quickly devised a plan to keep his stuff; he was going to tear down his old barns and build bigger ones. And there is a time to put away for a rainy day for none of us are immune to times of feast and famine; ask any farmer, there’s often more famine than feast. But our admiration for the farmer evaporates upon learning that he has no intention of sharing his good fortune; he wants to store it up for himself. “And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” Never mind the world around him; this was all about him.
Our Answer: This is not another story about the rich and famous; this is a story about an ordinary man who was likely hardworking, careful with his money, but was blessed with the success of good soil, rain, and weather, none of which has anything to do with him.
We too, like the farmer, can take hold of the idea that we’ve done everything right. We can sit back in our moments of contentment and say, “Wow, look what I’ve done!” Whether we are rich and successful or poor and struggling, we easily miss out on the most important things in life. I’ve spent much time over the years with people who are dying, and I’ve never heard one of them say they wish they had more stuff; all wished they had more time with family.
Fool: But there’s another voice in this man’s story, and in our lives too; God’s voice. He doesn’t accuse the man of injustice, selfishness, or even greed (though all those things are there). God calls him a fool! In Scripture a fool is someone who does not believe in God. “Only a fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God!’” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1) Not believing in God, the fool does not see God’s hand in the blessings he has and lives accordingly.
We might think that only a fool would chase after fake rabbits with no hope of ever catching them; only a fool would spend their lives coddling up to an idol. After all, worldly treasures have no eyes to see, ears to hear, voices to speak, hands or feet to move. It’s kind of a one sided relationship isn’t it? It’s like Briar Rabbit punching the Tar Baby because it wouldn’t answer, and by the time the Rabbit figured out the Tar Baby wasn’t real, he was stuck, trapped, a goner. “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and things that you have prepared, whose will they be?” The Tar Babies, the wealth, the stuff, the busyness, success, a thirst for more of whatever our idol says we need to be happy, leads us to forget the most important of all; the real, one true God. Jesus points out that the stuff we treasure can take hold of us in such a way that causes us to neglect the wealth of God’s relationship with us. But that’s what happens when your possessions possess you. Oh, how easily are you and I numbered among the fools!
Real Wealth: To be truly rich toward God is to know Him and the One He sent. It places Jesus, His cross, forgiveness, and the freedom He alone gives into the centre of your thinking and your lives. The Apostle Paul in the Epistle lesson wrote of how the Christian is given a whole new way of looking at the world and the stuff in it. This knowing the Father through the Son gives you a new worldview. In Christ you are a new creation! This is not a superficial way of knowing Jesus; this richness toward God is His gift of faith given by His Word and Spirit, by which we are able to trust Him, love Him, and believe in His promises. By faith we turn to Him, talk to Him, listen to Him, and worship Him. Only in Christ are we rich toward God and receive the peace that passes all understanding in prosperity and adversity, and in our living and dying. You can have the best of stuff that this world has to offer, but they’re not your life or your future. You already have the riches of your Baptism that are beyond anything this world can measure. The riches of this world stop at the grave; God’s riches are eternal! These are the riches God gave to little Angela in her Baptism today.
But these riches also lead to rich living. The fruit of the Spirit; the riches of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, have a lasting effect, not only on our lives, but also on the people around us. And God’s riches unstick us from our Tar Babies and free us from chasing imitation rabbits, allowing us to use our earthly wealth and blessings in a way that demonstrates the rich relationship we have with our God. We can thank our heavenly Father that Jesus was like the farmer in His story. He did not keep His wealth to Himself, but willingly gave everything for you and me. He who was rich, for our sake became poor, that through His poverty we might become rich. (2 Cor 8:9)