Storing or giving
Revd Dion J. Blundell
NEWSLETTER BLURB: Bible Sunday
Today is Bible Sunday. It is a day when we remember the power an impact of the bible. What you have before you is the hard work of many people and many generations before you. None of the Bible was written in English. As such, many hours of prayer, struggle and work has gone in to ensure that the message you have before you is accurately translated from the original languages. Today we thank God for our Bible translators.
When we read a reading we say: Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
We say this, because God speaks to us and this can often be interpreted in different ways. The question of us, is just what is God saying to us in the reading? We thank God too for the Holy Spirit that enables and empowers our understanding of God’s Word.
May you have open ears and hearts. May you take the time to discern what it is God is saying to you through the Bible readings you hear each week.
In Christ’s service together, Dion.
The Bible has been through lots of hard work to get to us. As we read it, and as we hear from God we need to ask 3 key questions. 1 – is the passage/word from God? 2. – what does it mean? 3- will I do anything about it? The challenge from today’s reading (Lk12:13-21) is to know that there is enough and to share this.
A man in a crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to give me my share of what our father left us when he died.”
Jesus answered, “Who gave me the right to settle arguments between you and your brother?”
Then he said to the crowd, “Don’t be greedy! Owning a lot of things won’t make your life safe.”
So Jesus told them this story:
A rich man’s farm produced a big crop, and he said to himself, “What can I do? I don’t have a place large enough to store everything.”
Later, he said, “Now I know what I’ll do. I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, where I can store all my grain and other goods. Then I’ll say to myself, ‘You have stored up enough good things to last for years to come. Live it up! Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.’”
But God said to him, “You fool! Tonight you will die. Then who will get what you have stored up?”
“This is what happens to people who store up everything for themselves, but are poor in the sight of God.”
Today is Bible Sunday.
It is a day when we remember the power and impact of the bible.
What you have before you is the hard work of many people
and many generations before you.
Interestingly it has almost no resemblance in shape to what was received
by those to whom God spoke.
For one, it was spoken and revceived at another time;
and secondly it was spoken in other languages.
None of the Bible was written in English.
Yet, even though it is so removed from us, we treat it with great respect and care.
Many hours of prayer, struggle and work has gone in
to ensure that the message you have before you is accurately translated from the original languages.
It is such an important document,
that for centuries people have died to get the message of God conveyed in the Bible to others.
Today, on Bible Sunday we thank God for our Bible translators;
and those that help distribute the Bible.
When we read a reading we say: Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
We say this, because God speaks to us and this can often be interpreted in different ways.
The question of us, is just what is God saying to us in the reading?
We thank God too for the Holy Spirit that enables and empowers
our understanding of God’s Word.
And the process of deciding what is from God and what is not,
is not the process of one individual,
it is the process of the gathered community of God.
Word of Knowledge
Some of you came to the service we had a few weeks ago,
and there have been some questions with regards to what was said to various people.
Some of these questions hinge around was what was said from God?
This question of was this from God,
is the same question we grapple with every week in sermons.
Was what was said, in biblical times actually God speaking?
And the follow on question is what does this mean for us?
Each week we read from the bible,
and I would suggest that the words only fully become the words of God when we live them.
In that, just because God speaks,
that doesn’t mean we are necessarily going to respond;
God gives us free choice,
sometimes we choose to respond,
and sometimes we don’t.
We have collected in the Bible some words which we collectively believe are from God to us.
That is the first stage of discernment,
deciding what is potentially from God.
The second stage is thinking:
and what does this mean?
The third stage is:
deciding if we we take action.
Hearing from God requires some stages from us:
1.) listening and sifting – is this possibly from God?
2.) interpreting – what does this mean?
3.) act – will I do anything about this?
Sometimes people ask why does God not speak to us today?
How the Bible was made
Let me come back to that question in a moment.
First an assumption.
The words spoken to us in the Bible are God’s words to us,
excluding things like the Psalms,
which could more accurately be descried as our words to God,
rather than God’s Words to us.
So let’s say the the Bible is God’s word to us.
Newsflash – God didn’t speak, with a transcriber writing down what God said.
So what we have isn’t the scribed dictated word of God,
it is somewhat more subtle than that,
and often over a much large period of time than we would expect.
For example God might speak one line one day, another line the next.
Rather than an entire book in one sitting.
It is almost certain that God’s word came gradually,
in a way that people digest,
and in a way that people could hear.
They would then preserve this through oral history,
and later through other ancient recording methods.
So God’s word came to the people.
They recorded this word in a way that worked for them.
Our early church fathers then went through these letters and scrolls and determined through prayer, debate and council meetings what would be in the cannon, or the authorised account of God speaking to us. Today we call that work they did the Bible.
Even though work has been done for us,
what we read and hear requires a level of interpretation.
Sometimes what we hear is challenging to us.
In our Bible reading today,
A difficult situation was brought to God through Jesus.
And an equally difficult answer was given.
Am I loved
At the heart of the question to Jesus over the inheritance was not,
I want my share
But : AM I LOVED?
When a family member dies,
and the will is read,
if things aren’t evenly split,
there is a question raised, and that is: “Did dad love me?”
The thing with today’s reading though,
is it is possible that the situation brought to Jesus wasn’t so much about a real situation,
but rather about the inheritance in God’s Kingdom.
The teaching that we hear from Luke at the moment,
is all teaching on God’s Kingdom,
and what things will be like.
So someone comes to Jesus and says: “I want my inheritance.”
Now the Jewish people were God’s chosen people,
the equivalent of the eldest son,
they had the land,
and here is another son coming and saying;
“I’d like my share of the land too.”
There was always a struggle over land.
And God’s Kingdom where things were to be shared,
would be no different.
It’s likely that the parable that Jesus told was a dig at the Jewish elite of the day.
They had taken God’s inheritance and tried to control things,
by growing bigger and bigger,
and storing things up for themselves,
and now they are eating, drinking and being merry.
God’s call on their life was not to amass and control;
but rather it was to call all people to God,
and to give them shelter.
But instead they have built barns for their comfort.
And this is somewhat of a judgement text for them.
They have missed the point of God’s Kingdom and will miss out,
as they are clearly nolonger working for God,
but for themselves.
Another idea at work in the reading is that of anxiety.
Society is built on anxiety,
we strive for higher and higher goals,
but to what end and for what purpose?
Often it is simply to accumulate.
And you don’t need to be rich to suffer from this,
you simply need to watch TV to see the extremes of hoarding that people go to.
And we all do this at times, we can all hoard.
In this teaching on God’s Kingdom,
there is an irony between Jesus’ teaching and our way of living.
One of the lies of the devil,
or of satan,
however you want to phrase the title of the tempter,
the tempters lines to us is constant,
and satan’s words are: there is not enough.
I often hear this line amongst Christians: there is not enough.
Where people think that there is not-enough,
there is not enough to go around,
so we should not do something.
So as there is not enough,
we should be prudent,
we should save,
we should build a barn,
we should put things aside for later.
This was what Jesus was constantly battling;
people who thought there was not enough and that we should save.
One of the biggest problems to saving though was the boy with the loaf and the fish,
he did not have enough…
or so the disciples thought.
But the fish and the loaves with God multiplied and feed thousands of people.
The message of God’s Kingdom in today’s reading is similar;
you are told there is not enough, but there is.
We tend to give in a calculated way from our wealth;
what have we got left over,
what time have I got spare this week for God?
what money have I got left over this week?
And if our mode of giving,
– if our giving of our time
– or the giving of our money,
if this works where we give from our left overs,
– then we naturally need to store up,
– so we have lots
– so we can give lots.
We know the importance of giving,
so it is important to save:
or so goes the thought of the person in today’s parable.
Save our leftovers for another day, or give them away today?
Today there is an INVITATION to BELIEVE that there is ENOUGH,
and to give today not tomorrow.
The call to the disciples in today’s reading was not to wait;
but to do now.
To trust that God’s call was the right call.
Will you store and delay,
or will you do what God is calling you to do,
with your time and you money?