Thursday, August 09, 2007

Lucky Folk

Luke 12: 13-21
Preached at Center Moreland and Dymond Hollow UMC's, August 5, 2007

I listen to many types of music. You scan through my presets in my car radio, you look through our music library, you see anything from classical to Christian to rap to country to rock. We like what we like, and genres don’t always seem to matter. I’ve even taken to hitting the scan button on the car radio rather than the presets, lately!

When I read the Gospel passage for this week, It was a passage about greed and what God giving us being sufficient. When I drive around, I think about what I am going to preach on, and one of the songs I heard this week was Montgomery Gentry’s “Lucky Man”. Remember it?

But I know I'm a lucky man
God's given me a pretty fair hand
Got a house and a piece of land
A few dollars in a coffee can
My old truck's still running good
My ticker's ticking like they say it should
I got supper in the oven, a good woman's loving
And one more day to be my little kid's dad
Lord, knows I'm a lucky man

Most music, I know, is about what we don’t have. In a way, this one is too, but it is more about what it is we do have, and that it is good enough for a good life. It defines what a good life, in a way, is and it isn’t defined by possessions. He has his health, he has a house, he has love and family, and he has food and transportation. This is what he reminds himself of, in the song, when he has "days where (he) hates (his) job / This little town and the whole world too Days when (our) favorite teams lose, I have moments when I curse the rain / Then complain when the sun's too hot.

When the young man asks Jesus to arbitrate in a dispute between he and his brother about an inheritance, his response isn’t to arbitrate, it is to tell the angry man (and we know the voice is a man, because most of the time, women didn’t inherit anything) the parable of the greedy farmer. The lesson is at verse 20, and here it is in the Message: Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods—who gets it? That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self, and not with God.

Filling our barns with self and not with God is a tough thing to fight, isn’t it? I look at my car, 13 years old, with the panel that controls the seat height and all that is cracked off, and just kind of lays on the floor. Sometimes I have to bang the dash to get the radio volume to work. The mileage is pretty low, and I can’t get any more than about 5 people into it. The A/C overheats the engine when it’s hot and humid and I am driving in town or with a full load.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a car that gets 30 MPG, seats 7, has a CD player, instant air conditioner, GPS, and a moonroof? Wouldn’t it be great to have a tractor that burns fuel slowly, pulls anything like it’s nothing, and has a CD player, instant air conditioner, GPS, and a moonroof? Wouldn’t it be great to have a garden that is beautifully laid out, is weed and deer-proof, and you were able to use every single bit of what came from it?

This isn’t one of those sermons where I stand up here and say “be happy with what you have, because other have less”. No, it’s more along the lines of “be happy with what you have, because what you have shouldn’t be the source of your happiness”. Does my car get me around? Yes. Does that tractor mow and disc and plow well enough? Yes? Does that garden supply you with fresh, healthy food, with enough to share? Yes? Well, then we’re all lucky folk, aren’t we? To go outside Country music, Sheryl Crow says it this way: It's not having what you want, it’s wanting what you've got. We’ve all got a lot, and more than we need. No one here is a Trump or a Hilton. We can’t buy everything that we desire, sometimes we have to wait to payday to buy a pizza! But we have everything we need, truly need. We’ve got people who will walk with us through tough times. We’ve got folks who will work to make stuff so to help someone else’s needs. We’ve got folks who know our faults, have seen us be idiots and stubborn fools, and love us anyway. This is the stuff we can’t save up in barns, no barn we could build is big enough for the riches we have. This is what makes us rich. We don’t need barns to store it up in, we need to find ways to spread it out.

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