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How do you live your life in response to God’s abundance in your lives?

Text: Luke 12:13-21

This is a financial stewardship sermon that is preached at a time when there is not a request to the congregation to give more money. Instead it examines the relationship we have with what God has entrusted to us.

How do you live your life in response to God's abundance in your lives?
August 1, 2010
Text:  Luke 12:13-21
Debra Samuelson

Grace be unto you dear friends in Christ and peace -- from God and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Let us pray:  Jesus. Invite us this morning to remember anew that all we have and all we are is but a gift from you. We want to love you and to serve you, and to be faithful stewards...And now may the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight O God -- you are our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN

When we left Minneapolis nearly 25 years ago,
it was to accept a call to a two-point parish
in rural Iowa.  
It was one full time position
that my husband, who is also a pastor,
and I split between the two of us.  

It worked well for us at the time.  
It allowed each of us to be home
with our beloved children,
and at the same time
allowed both of us
to fulfill that to which God
was also calling us --
service in the church as parish pastors.

We hadn't been there long --
just a couple weeks --
when Peter got this wild idea.  

"Deb!"  he said,
"We are going to preach
a 6-week sermon series on money!"  

To which I replied without hesitation,
"No -- YOU can preach
a 6-week sermon series on money.  
I'd like to stay here
longer than a few months!"

Well I lost that battle!  
We preached --
each of us three times --
a 6-week sermon series that fall on money,
which in the end may have been, for me,
the most important sermon series
I have ever preached,
for it was in that process
that I grew beyond my fear
of talking to people about money,
and grew beyond my fear
of talking about money
from the pulpit.  

Money is an uncomfortable topic for us.  
We don't feel like we should talk about it --
especially not in church
and as Lutheran
especially not from the pulpit.

And yet --
at the same time,
we long to be
in honest conversation about it --
about our own struggles with money,
about our struggles with these texts
on money,  
our struggles with what Jesus says
about money and possessions,
We struggle with these texts because our deepest desire
Is to be faithful in all that we do.  

What do we do with these texts?  

Last spring
there was the admonition from Jesus
that we are to go and sell all that we have
and give it to the poor --
and then --
only then --
can we  be disciples of Jesus.
Today we have a parable about a rich man
who planned for his future!  

He built barns to store his grain
so he could sell it at a later time
and it wouldn't go to waste.  
And he's called a fool!  

What's that about?  

Is Jesus trying to tell us
not to plan for our future?  
What do we do with these texts?

This is why
I'm not afraid to talk about money anymore --
to individuals or from the pulpit.  
Because these lessons are not
guilt and shame producing stories,
although that's the way
we so often hear them.  

These texts on money
are not about  "you shoulds".

They are not about guilting us
for having money and
they are not about shaming us
into giving.

These lessons are intended to show us
how to live faithfully --
and to point out to us what gets in the way
of living the abundant lives
Jesus intends for us to live.  

So let's take a look at what Jesus is saying
to us today:
Open your Bibles with me
to Luke the 12th chapter,
beginning with the 16th verse.
"Then he told them a parable: The land of a rich man produced abundantly."
Let's stop right there.  

In this parable,
what part does the man play
in this abundant crop?  

"The land...produced abundantly"  

He didn't have a thing to do with it!  
Jesus begins this parable --
not by talking about the man,
but about the land and its great harvest.  

The beginning of this story
is about a miraculous harvest!  
And it's given as a gift!  
All that he owns is a gift!  

So let's continue
to see what he does with this gift.  
Verses 17 and 18:  
And he thought to himself, 'What should I do,
for I have no place to store my crops?'  
Then 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."

Do you hear it?  
Do you hear the problem?  

There is no acknowledgement
whatsoever on his part
that any of this is a gift.

He makes no connection --
at all -  
between his good fortune
and God's graciousness.

We understand that.
We understand that rich man!
Because of the role
money and possessions play in our lives,
it is so easy --
it is so tempting --
to think it is all about us --
and to focus
on what we do
and how hard we have worked (and we have)
to deserve all that we have.

What this lesson is reminding us,
is of the giftedness of all of life.  
It's all a gift.  

Even our money and our possessions -- yes, that we have worked hard for.
It's still -- a gift.

Let's continue.
Verse 19:  "And I will say to my soul, Soul, you
have ample goods laid up for many years;
relax, eat, drink, be merry."

Now there's nothing wrong with being merry.
What any loving parents
want for their children
is for them to be happy and fulfilled
in life.  

Of course that's what God wants -  
for all of God's beloved children --
and being totally focused
on me,
mine and
is not what will bring us happiness --
or joy --
or fulfillment --
or purpose in life.

What the man missed was his true source of joy --
the abundance of God's grace and mercy.

He thought he was the source of his gifts
-- but the true source of all that he had
was God.

It is the recognition of that --
and our response to it --
that makes all the difference in our lives.

The man in the parable was a fool --
not because he prepared for the future --
but because he missed the point,  
and in missing the whole point --
which is
our utter dependence
on God's grace and love --
he also missed the joy.  

He missed the purpose of his life --
he missed a life of meaning --
because he did not recognize the gift --
and therefore responded in a way
that was all about
mine and
A life focused on
And mine
is not a life of joy and
it is not a life of abundance and
it is not a life --
of meaning.

Contrast that to a life of abundance --
a life of joy:  
a life of abundance and joy
Is the recognition that all of life --
all of who I am what I have --
all --
is a gift.  

And then living in response to that gift --
that is a life of joy --
and abundance  -
and meaning --
and purpose.
Recognizing the gift -- and living in response to it!

The question of this text is not:
"What are you going to do
with your money?"
The question of this text is twofold:
1)Do you see the gift --
do you see the abundance
in God's gifts --
2) and how do you live your life
in response to God's abundance
in your lives?

Do you see the gift?
And how do you respond
to God's abundance?

We know how we want to respond
to those questions.  

We want to respond --
every one of us --
wants to respond
faithfully to God's abundance,
and yet we know we fail --
every one of us --
time and time again.  

While we may not do it perfectly --
we do not always acknowledge the gift
and we don't always respond the way
we wish we would --
the promise of our baptism
is that Christ continues to respond to us --
Christ continues to come to us
with grace and mercy.

It's all about grace.  
It's all about the gift.  
All of life --
all that we have and
all that we are - is a gift .
A life of meaning and joy is the recognition of the gift
And living in response to it.

And now may the peace of God -- which passes all human understanding -- keep your hearts and your minds -- in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior,  AMEN


Debra Samuelson is Senior Pastor at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Minneapolis, MN.

Author information was updated as of the article's post date. Author profiles may not reflect author's current employment or location.

Image credit: © Ignacio García Losa ( via Flickr. Used by permission.

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