Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sermon: September 21 (Stewardship)

Greed is good, Greed is right, Greed works! And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA…

words of Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in the film Wall Street (1987)
watch the clip here:

How times have changed since 1987!

Our country would not be in this financial mess, if some of our financial institutions did not get greedy over mortgages and risky loans. But the fault also lies with us, as we have lived into this greed too with our own over consumption of goods getting too debt ridden ourselves, and our mortgages to boot. We are in the same boat together, you and I. Living in a culture that like that movie character says - Greed is good, Greed is right, Greed works - it has been part of our financial landscape for a while...

We know that greed will not save us. We have tasted that greed and found it isn’t good, it destroys lives, it isn’t right and it doesn’t work except for a few who are indeed becoming richer in this mess.

So what should we do?

Get supplies, run for the hills and wait ‘til it’s over.
Hunker down, spend less, and live in fear of what might happen next.

No. I think we should soar. Let me explain…

As I watched the financial mess unfold these past couple of weeks, I kept thinking about stewardship. For it is stewardship, (as the dictionary defines it) “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care” that we each have responsibility. Those big heavy weights in finance failed to be good stewards of their investments, instead taking on risky loans and mortgages and they have paid the price.

We too have been entrusted with our time, talent and our treasure. Not to hoard or store them up here on earth, nor to lose them in frivolous living but we are called forth to use them as good stewards. Good stewardship is about using our resources wisely, to give thanks for the blessings in our lives and to live as generously as we can with what we have. When we do that, we soar because we are set free!

I hear that in the parable of the landowner, a parable of God’s generosity.

Its time to harvest the grapes, so the landowner hires workers early in the morning. But he doesn’t stop there he goes out again and again and again. Each time hiring those who are standing idle, who haven’t been hired, and he tells them they will get paid whatever is right. When evening comes, all those hired get paid, the daily wage. No matter if they worked all day or if they only worked since 5, they all got the same pay. Those first laborers cry foul. They worked harder than anyone else, why should those who didn’t work as long earn the same as them? That’s no way to run a vineyard. But this vineyard is the Lord’s, and it is a parable of the kingdom.

The generosity of our God knows no bounds. The parable speaks to the open invitation to God’s kingdom, an invitation to all, be they first or last, for we all receive the same pay, the same salvation, we are free. Greed will not save us. Fear will only hold us back. But the generosity of God reminds us that we need to place our hopes elsewhere…

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. (Is. 40:31)

As we think about that generosity, let me end with this tale…

Once upon a time, a monk, in his travels, found a precious stone worth a great deal of money. The monk kept it wrapped in a cloth in his traveling bag. As he continued on his way, he met a traveler, and offered to share his meager lunch with him. When the monk opened his bag, the traveler saw the jewel and asked the monk if he could have it to feed his family. The monk readily gave the jewel to him.

The traveler departed, overjoyed with the unexpected gift of the precious stone that would give him and his family wealth and security the rest of their lives. But a few days later, the traveler sought ought the monk at his monastery and gave him back the stone. "I have come to ask for something much more precious than this stone," he ex­plained. "Give me whatever enabled you to give it to me."

Today let us soar. Let us open ourselves to hear God’s Word. Let us open ourselves up through prayer, caring for each other, and doing the little things like the “three ways to soar” stated in the brochure you received this week. Let us open our hearts and be generous like that monk, like that landowner, like God! and give of ourselves. Amen.

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