The eleventh sunday after pentecost, year c (proper 12) luke 12: 13-21

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LUKE 12:13-21

JULY 31, 2016





So the Atlanta Braves are moving. They’re moving to Cobb County. Seems the Braves need a new stadium. The old one just won’t do anymore. After all, it is twenty years old. And there’s certainly nothing historic about it at all. Except maybe that little 1996 Olympics thing!

No, our Olympic stadium is no longer good enough for the Atlanta Braves. Well, I say good riddance. Go Braves, go. Go, and take all that traffic with you. They’ll love that up there in Cobb County.

Truth be told, I’m not a baseball fan. I’ve not lost any sleep over the Braves departure. I just find it interesting that our region loves to tear down things and re-build. It’s the Atlanta way. Tear it down and re-build it bigger.

Then there’s the Georgia Dome. It’s coming down next year. The Atlanta Falcons and their owner must have a better stadium. After all, The Georgia Dome is such an embarrassment. Really?

Then there’s the Central Library of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System. Built in 1980 by world-renowned architect Marcel Breuer in the Bauhaus Movement style and renovated in 2002, some Atlanta leaders thought it should come down and be replaced by another building. Why? Because the 1980 building is just too big.

I’m not making this up.

So bigger means better, right? Well, not always. Certainly not in this morning’s gospel.

This morning we heard Jesus tell a story about a rich man and his crops. The rich man had a very good year. Good for him! His land produced in abundance. The weather was perfect that year: the right amount of rain; the right amount of sunshine. The land produced more than the man could handle. His barns weren’t big enough to accommodate the harvest.

So what else could he do except tear down the old barns and build bigger ones. That was his only option, right?

Well, no. He could have done something else. He could have shared his abundance with those who had less. There’s never been a shortage of hungry people in the world. Having been blessed by God with such an abundance, he could have been generous.

Yes, he and his workers worked hard. I don’t doubt that at all. But God gave the increase. All that we have is a gift from God, but this man didn’t see it that way. In a word, he was selfish. He chose to keep everything for himself.

And so he said to himself, “At last I’ve got it made. I’ve got everything I need for the rest of my life. It’s time to relax. I’ll eat. I’ll drink. I’ll be merry.”

It’s like he won the lottery. Except God had something else in mind. God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?”

In other words, you cannot take it with you. Like it or not, that’s how it works. He who dies with the most toys does not win.

Today’s gospel is a warning. It’s a cautionary tale about greed. Jesus introduced his parable with these words: “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”

They say that more is better, and it can be – when we share it, that is. That’s true for each of us as individuals. It’s true for us as a church. It’s true for us as a nation. It’s true, period. Sharing abundance is a good and life-giving thing. Selfish hoarding is not. Ultimately, selfishness kills. It may or may not kill the body, but it does kill the soul. Building bigger barns to serve one’s self-interest never pays off. Life doesn’t work that way. Sharing brings meaning to life. Simply put, sharing is the Christian way of life.

Andrew Carnegie was one of the richest men in history. A poor Scottish immigrant, he made his fortune in nineteenth century Pittsburgh steel. In today’s dollars his net worth would be well over 300 billion dollars. Carnegie was a business man and a philanthropist. He gave money to charities, foundations, and universities. There are numerous Carnegie libraries throughout this nation. Carnegie built Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Andrew Carnegie is credited with a saying that goes something like this: getting rich is no sin. Dying rich is a sin. Before he died, Carnegie gave away ninety percent of his wealth. He didn’t build bigger barns for himself. He built libraries. He gave away from his abundance.

“Be on your guard against all kinds of greed,” Jesus said, “for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”

There comes a point when enough stuff is enough. There’s a difference between wants and needs. When your needs are met – your real needs – it’s time to share with others.

You can store up treasures for yourself, or you can be rich toward God. You can pay the consequences of selfishness, or reap the rewards of generosity. The choice is yours. I hope you make a wise choice.

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