Ouch - Weekly Reflections 10-7-15

 Texts for Sunday October 11

Amos 5:6-7, 10-15
Psalm 90:12-17
Hebrews 4:12-16
Mark 10:17-31


That’s my reflection for this week; see you next week….

Oh fine.  Read the Gospel. 

You can read these texts using the Oremus Bible Browser.

For the last several weeks, Jesus has been telling us that the Kingdom of God is made up of the vulnerable and outcast. I feel vulnerable sometimes; don’t look too closely, but I have my moments. I think I’ve caught on to the concept sooner than the disciples.

But then this story comes along and sinks my boat. A rich man who has obviously tried earnestly to live faithfully and righteously for most of his life walks away from Jesus.  I have this awful feeling that I too have turned away grieving because I too have many possessions. It takes a strong person to be vulnerable in this culture.

I have dabbled my whole adult life with ways to ignore the calls of consumerism for newer, better, slicker. I studied complimentary non-meat proteins in the Diet for a Small Planet. I have tried to celebrate an alternative Christmas and remember “Whose Birthday Is It Anyway?” I have cooked from the More-with-Less cookbook, and planned simpler parties from Living More With Less. I reduced, repaired, reused, and recycled with the best of them. I’ve wrestled my relationship with money ala Ministry of Money retreats. I have earnestly tried to live faithfully and righteously.

But, still, I love my stuff. 

This Gospel says that Jesus looked at the rich man and loved him. No other Gospel account of this story includes that note.

With that small phrase, I believe and rejoice in Christ boldly, I remember I am saint and sinner, and that God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 

Jesus looked at me, and loved me.

Does that mean I have a get-out-of-jail-free card? Well, yes and no (I love being a Lutheran!). I recognize that I am letting Jesus down when I turn away. I cannot by my own strength live simply enough to earn God’s love. God’s love for me means I don’t have to work my way there. 

But, what would selling all my stuff and giving all the money to the poor do?  First, selfishly, I would be free from sin, from my death-grip on stuff, and from a giant pile of guilt. Secondly, it would benefit my neighbor…you know, one of those vulnerable outcasts that are of the Kingdom.  As many of the theologians of my life have said, "What do I do now that I don’t have to do anything?" I am freed to serve others. 

The curriculum for the 8th grade confirmation class says “God’s forgiveness frees us to worry less about the impossible task of being perfect…and more about the daily and doable efforts and actions of caring for each other and making peace.1

This story will keep me honest whenever I encounter it in a Gospel and I will squirm a bit. But, that is actually good news. 

How about you? Is it good news for you? How can it be good news?

How does the way we spend our money reflect our priorities?

Reflect on whether your wealth/security gets in the way of, or helps your faith life? What might it keep you from doing? What might it help you to do?

Check out the G.I.F.T. post for this Sunday, October 11, for more ways to reflect on these verses.

I'd love to start a conversation. Please use the comment section below.

1 collaborate: Bondage of the Will © Sparkhouse, 2015

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245