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The SE corner of Pines Blvd and 72nd Ave
Across the street from Broward college South Campus lake
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Join Us For Worship!

Join Us For Worship!
Sundays at 8:30AM, 9:45AM, and 11AM

Saturday, July 31, 2010

This Sunday I will be preaching on Luke 12:13-21:

"The one who dies with the most toys wins!” says one bumper sticker. "Those who die with the most toys still die,” replies another. Bumper sticker conversations, if anyone is listening, Smiling. Amused.

Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." 14But he said to him, "Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?" 15And he 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."

I have friends who play a game with their children called “catch the lie.” They watch commercials whose job it is, is in essence to teach us to covet. To desire that which we do not possess. Because things – the stuff that they promote - will make our life better, easier, more fun, cooler, will promote envy in our friends and neighbors, will get others to take notice of us, will get us the hot model, the guy with the six pack abs, will make us feel esteemed, look at our stuff – this stuff spells success! We fill storage units with this stuff. We hold garage sales to sell the old stuff to make room for new stuff. We buy bigger houses with bigger closets and soon those houses seem small. Where did we get all of that stuff from?

Then Jesus told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17And he thought to himself, 'What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' 18Then he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.'

Today marks ten years since I began my tenure at Trinity. I found myself in a reflective mood this week, swimming in memories of the years gone by and the lives that have passed from us into the Kingdom Triumphant, those saints who have gone on ahead of us. Three years ago this week, I found myself at the bedside of one of them. A dying man. A friend. A brother in Christ whose baptism the Christmas Eve prior I will treasure always.

At his bedside, we prayed the Lord's Prayer together. He knew the words by heart - this new Christian who had danced with the Holy Spirit round and round for so many years, pondering deep questions of faith. He was a man of vast treasure: Not in gold or silver or greenbacks or in plastic. He did not spend his life building new and bigger barns. No tearing down old ones, perfectly functional ones, or building bigger ones for him. No.

No renting storage units, swapping houses and cars to keep up, to get ahead, to impress, to feel important, to achieve the adulation of peers, to tell us that he has "made it," or because it was expected of him. Nope. Not him.

At his bedside I had ample time to observe the sum of his possessions - they surrounded him. They made a statement - don't they always? Photographs, memories frozen in time, his smiling daughter throughout the years growing from infant to child, from child to young adult. Picture of family, of friends. His wife, his companion and friend, the photographs catalogued a lifetime of love.

And Jesus said, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions

Sometimes this man worshipped in pain and exhaustion, his disease held in check by drugs, that ultimately failed, allowing the cancer to attack his body with impunity. He worshipped in pain and exhaustion, but always with a thirsty spirit and a big heart.

It is so easy not to take our relationship with God seriously, the practice of our faith, our discipleship, our commitment as children of God. I think of the Sundays years and years ago that I was too tired to go to worship or too distracted to go. Had no time for God, too busy living, you know. Not thirsty enough to go. Too busy building barns. Eating, drinking, being merry. I had many excuses. Don’t we all?
It doesn’t take much to convince ourselves that we have better things to do. We’ll say an extra prayer or two, we say to ourselves. We’ll catch some religious TV show to make up for it. Anything to save time for the things that we really need to do. Really want to do. Gotta fill those barns. Nothing worse than a half-empty barn.

Jesus said, “One's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”
So, if not possessions, then what?

With his wife at his side, sometimes at his arm, leading him, guiding him, being his strength, Larry came thirsty. God gave him the gift of healing - of medicine - that he had practiced diligently for almost as long as I had been alive. God gave him the gifts of wisdom, of patience, of humility, of generosity, and a servant's heart.

Three years ago, surrounded by photographs of some of the lives he had touched, having lived almost a year and a half longer than the doctors thought he would, he let go. Having lived long enough to experience his daughter graduate from college; having lived long enough to make the journey through the waters of baptism led by the Holy Spirit of God, he finally let go. Surrounded by friends and family who were in his eyes one and the same, he let go.

Jesus said, “One's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”
So, if not possessions, then what?

Larry, it must be said, never had the inclination to get into the barn business: Building them, filling them or tearing them down. Not his area of interest or expertise. He invested richly in relationships. In his quiet and gentle way - In his generosity and patience – In his graciousness - he pointed others to the One who is beyond us all, yet with us all and the Savior of us all.

Jesus said, “One's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”
So, if not possessions, then what?
What, indeed!

Will it consist, as it did in Larry’s and so many others who have blessed and graced my life over the past ten years, in being rich towards God and not in things? In lives touched, a generosity of spirit, in imitating Christ, in a humility that allows the grace of God to shine through wondrously radiant and perfectly glorious? Will it? Because it can and it should. Our lives can and should be rich towards God! This is not the ideal - it is exactly who we are made to be.

Then Jesus told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17And he thought to himself, 'What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' 18Then he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' 20But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'

Some things are beyond the touch of rust or rain or rot or even death. Such things cannot be taken away. What things are we spending our life doing? Not the things we will do or hope to do, but are doing. Today. This week. Are we building even bigger barns or are we building relationships for the sake of the Gospel? When the barns fall prey to rot and our possessions fill the landfills of time, what will remain of our lives, remain unyielding, a witness to the ages of our great and glorious God? What shall remain of our lives?
Amen.

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