By: Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge
This Sunday, August 5, 2018, we continue our Via Positiva theme of Yes! In Deed! exploring the various ways that we can embody our “Yes!” our “Oh, Yeah” in the world.
This Sunday we used music from Aloe Blacc to learn how overcoming our greed can bring unity into the world.
Ecclesiastes 1:2, 2: 18-26: Vanity of vanities. All is vanity!
Luke 12: 13-21: Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.
A Course in Miracles, Chapter 29: God gave you all there is.
Song used in the sermon: I Need Dollar – Aloe Blacc
In our Jesus story, we meet a guy who doesn’t need a dollar, dollar. Instead, he’s got plenty and then some. He’s brought in such an abundance of crops, he’s considering how he’s going to store everything he’s taken in. His current silos are too small to hold the incredible abundance he finds himself possessing.
We’d all like to have that problem, right? So much abundance that we can’t even fit it into our tiny bank accounts? So much stuff we need a bigger house to hold it all? Isn’t that the American dream, after all?
Jesus calls him a fool. Vanity of vanities – this idea of building larger silos to hold his overflowing wealth. Let’s not get the wrong message from this parable, however. Jesus isn’t dissing wealth in and of itself, per se. What Jesus calls foolish is hoarding our wealth. This man brought in a great crop that year – and his first thought is of himself and how it will enrich only him. This is what Jesus calls foolish – what we do with our abundance – not that abundance itself that has come our way.
It’s also important to notice that the scripture tells us that this guy didn’t get his wealth by toil – as Kohelet would call it. Instead, “the land of the rich man produced abundantly.” The land produced, not the man, and I think this is where we get lost when we start talking about abundance, and where a lot of the guilt some of us feel about money springs from.
What this passage says is this: “Abundance is a given.” As the Course tells us in today’s reading, “God gave you all there is.” The “land” – our higher divine self – is always producing abundance. That’s a good thing, and we’re invited to tap into it, to reap what we have not sown, because God has provided everything and more if only we’ll tune in to that abundance and bring it into our reality.
Where we go wrong, Jesus says, is what we do with that abundance once it begins to flow. Do we hoard it? Do we stop the flow of that abundance through us and out into the world? This is what this man did. He thought of all the ways his abundance could benefit only himself. He cut off the Holy flow of abundance and was determined to “relax, eat, drink, and be merry” while those around him starved.
“You fool!” Jesus says. “This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be? So, it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.”
That word “toward” in Greek can also be translated as “in.” This rich man had plenty of wealth in his crops, but his flaw was that while he was rich in ego and selfishness, he was not rich in God. As the Course says, he believed in idols.
“Each worshiper of idols harbors hope his special deities will give him more than other men possess,” the Course tells us. “It does not really matter more of what; more beauty, more intelligence, more wealth, or even more affliction and more pain. But more of something is an idol for. And when one fails another takes its place, with hope of finding more of something else.”
Our ego’s slogan is “seek and do not find,” and, “I need a dollar, dollar, dollar is what I need,” could be its theme song, compelling us to seek after worldly forms that denote our power, prestige and security.
Jesus rightly calls this foolish. Jubilants, unless we are rich in God – rich in things such as compassion, generosity, kindness, love and joy – it doesn’t matter how many more silos we build to hold our wealth. We’ll always be living in poverty. Breathe deeply.