“…it’s time you appreciated God’s deep love.”
In looking at Barclay’s commentary on Luke I found this story about John Wesley. John wanted to save all he could and give all that he could. At Oxford, he received 30 pounds a year for his living so he lived on 28 pounds and gave away 2 pounds. As his income increased to 60, 90 and eventually 120 pounds, he continued to live on 28 pounds and give away the rest. At one point, a person in charge of Household Plate--meaning silver plate, wanted a return from him and John reported that he had two silver tea spoons in London and two in Bristol and since that was all he needed, he had no plans to purchase any more while so many around him wanted bread.
I think this is a good response to the Gospel reading. Jesus was telling his crowd that those who had what they needed (like the rich farmer and perhaps the man who wanted his brother to split the inheritance with him), these people, the well-off, needed to think beyond themselves--to live beyond themselves. “…it’s time you appreciated God’s deep love.”
Because if we contemplate God’s deep love for us, this love that Hosea describes as a father for his child, we would recognize that this love doesn’t stop with ME, it includes everyone. And if God loves us all, maybe we should consider what we can do for others besides ourselves.
God’s love doesn’t stop “…because I am God and not a human. I’m the Holy One and I’m here-in your very midst.” God won’t turn God’s back on those who have gone astray. John Wesley wasn’t about to turn his back on the hungry, both spiritually and physically, while he was studying for the priesthood.
It makes me think of Sarah (Monroe) when she was at EDS. She was struggling financially herself and yet she chose to work with the poor. She could have become very self-focused, but she chose not to. And, she developed rich friendships with the poor of Boston Commons. She went on pilgrimage with them and she found a way to go to Oaxaca and learn about poverty in another place, so she could expand her knowledge and her compassion. These experiences fed her passion to serve working class folks here in Grays Harbor.
Paul reminds us that our baptism is a turning point. We no longer can be the guy who builds bigger storage units when he has a windfall, we are required to lift our heads and see what is going on in the world around us. We are called to spend part of what we receive to feed others. We are called to listen with open minds and hearts to those who are in need. And we are called to consider: Do I really need 10 spoons? Do I really need a larger storage unit? Do I have the right to sit back on my laurels and eat, drink and be merry while others do not have what they need to survive? What value is life if we only consider the here and now--if we only consider that I have what I need and not what others may need?
Paul tells us we must turn a new leaf and consider “…it’s time you appreciated God’s deep love.” It’s time to appreciate that God loves us all. God is the loving parent even when we become rebellious teenagers, even when we build bigger storage units. God still loves us deeply. “I am God and not a human. I’m the Holy One and I’m here…”