Sunday, August 05, 2007

Bigger Barns

Readings for this week are here

I am not preaching this week as we are home in Lander with our 8 year old grandson who is visiting for a couple of weeks. However, I belong to a couple of sermon discussion listserves and this story came up.

Bigger barns. An article titled "This New House," published in the March/April 2005 issue of Mother Jones, documents the growth in size and luxury amenities of the average new home in the United States. Among the findings: one in four Americans wants at least a three-car garage; one in five new homes is larger than 3,000 square feet--the size at which it becomes unmanageable to clean without hired help; since 1950, the average new house has increased by 1,247 square feet, while the average household has shrunk by one person; 14 million households own four or more TVs; the average cost of a luxury kitchen remodel is $57,000 $10,000 more than it costs to build a typical Habitat for Humanity home.

Jesus' story of the man who built bigger barns to contain all his wealth and then died in the night is challenging to those of us who are more than comfortable. I know I have more than most in this world. Though we share it with others, contribute to causes that help others out of poverty, and work to change systemic issues, I wonder if I am just kidding myself about the imbalance I see in my own life. I can say the usual "if I give it all away - I would just become another poor person with no power to make a difference" or "I make my resources available to others" or whatever.

I do believe that the point of the story is our worship of God vs our worship of our wealth. If we spend all our time trying to protect our things and our status - we will have an impoverished life. But poverty does not guarantee holiness either.

It is easy, when one has material wealth, to believe that I am somehow a better person - more deserving - that I earned it with my own abilities forgetting that it is really a result of privilege, luck, and lots of external support. Or worse - that somehow it is God's blessing of me and my family. The prosperity gospel - ala The Secret and other popular "fiction" is an example of this doctrine. Mostly these preachers writers are the ones who end up rich!

In the end - I have questions and not many answers. The one I do have is to sit lightly with possessions, realizing that in the end it will be how we lived and not what we had.