Sermon of the week: Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief
by Rev. Don Taylor, pastor, Emeritus of Faith Lutheran Church
Aug 04, 2013 | 687 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This part of a child’s view came to mind as I sat to reflect on the texts for this coming Sunday. They will remind us of the mad scramble that we make for wealth through much of our life to accumulate more and more while at the same time we really know we cannot take it with us. From the rich man of Luke’s Gospel, chapter 12, verses 13-21 who builds up larger storehouses to the passage from Ecclesiastes, Chapter 1 we cannot avoid a “chasing after wealth, which is not lasting. How many lottery millionaires do you know who have maintained their winnings beyond a year or two? The teacher of Ecclesiastes advocates that we avoid the world’s values and the practical necessities of this world in favor of something more valuable. Ecclesiastes presents a contrast as it is a book that is disheartening to the Christian reader while, at the same time, it is “word of God, word of life”, that is it so full of truth if we will listen.

Scott Bryte has written, they say that you can’t take it with you, but that hasn’t stopped people from trying. People sneak things into coffins at funeral homes: flags and medals, hats and sports gear, stuffed animals, and pictures drawn by grandchildren. No one tried as hard to take it with them as the pharaohs of Egypt. They took furniture, musical instruments, jewelry and even full-sized boats. We might succeed in taking our stuff to our graves. The pharaohs managed to get their treasure as far as museums. But none of these things are truly ours forever. The only thing that really goes with us is the grace of God.

The struggle we face is “How to become rich toward God?’ We begin by looking at how we might consider our mortal death in light of our relationship to God. The promise of God is of much more value than any things that we can accumulate while we are walking in this world. Mr. T would have reminded us, “I pity the fool, who has no place for God.”

There is a Buddhist story about a wrestler who wore a precious stone in an ornament on his forehead. During a certain wrestling match, the stone was crushed into the wrestler’s forehead and was covered with dirt and blood. When the wrestler touched his forehead, all he felt was the dirt and blood. He thought, sadly, that he had lost the precious gem. But when he went to the doctor, the first thing the doctor did was to thoroughly cleanse the wound, and in doing so, he discovered the gem, pressed into the skull. He held up a mirror, and showed the wrestler the embedded gem. The Buddhist teacher tells us that the dirt and blood are like the greed and other interests that obscure the divine nature in each of us. The doctor holding up the mirror is like the Teacher who shows us the divinity in ourselves that is obscured when we allow our selfish interests to dominate our lives.
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