Grace and peace to you, from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
“Sell what you have and give alms to the poor.” This passage is hard to hear in any time, but in this particular time? We don’t need to be reminded how blessed we are in this country, and how we have more income and more wealth than just about any other country in the world. But things are not looking too good. I once gave a light-hearted sermon about “stuff.” Having too much stuff can be a problem. That’s why we have garage sales and eBay. But the first verse of today’s Gospel reading says it all: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.”
Pastor David Lose said, “God doesn't just hope we do all right. God isn't just sitting around, waiting for us to earn God's favor, or watching to make sure we're toeing the line. Rather, God wants to give us the Kingdom and all good things. In fact, Jesus says it's "your Father's good pleasure" – that is, God really, really wants to give us the Kingdom and all good things.”
Jesus said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Like the rich man in last week’s reading, do we lie awake at night pondering what to do with all our stuff? Or, more likely in these times, lie awake at night worrying about how to hold on to the stuff we have? There is a big difference between the way the world lives and the way Jesus calls us to live. It’s the difference between living with our hands open to receive the Kingdom, or our fists clenched. When we clench our fists, and concentrate so much on keeping what we have, we lose the ability to open our hands to receive and to give. Jesus tells the disciples it is God’s wish to give us the Kingdom. But how can we accept it with clenched fists? We need to live with our hands open in order to be ready for the coming of the Kingdom.
Jesus says, “Be prepared. Live your life as if the Kingdom God is giving us is just around the corner. Just like servants waiting for the master to come, we have to be ready to welcome the Kingdom. The problem with our relationship to our stuff is that it prevents us from thinking about anything else. We are tempted to spend all our time focused on our stuff—our homes, our retirement. So what are we to do, to break this focus on stuff? Are we really to just sell everything and give to the poor? Maybe. But maybe we could start by just letting go a little of our fear. Letting go of our need to secure our future, because Jesus has told us our future has been taken care of.
We have God’s promise of the Kingdom, just like Abram in our first reading. An old man, just as good as dead, is told to not be afraid against all odds. He will be the father of a whole nation. We know that God kept God’s promise to Abram. So against all odds, we will receive the Kingdom. We will be given God’s grace and eternal life. God has promised us. So do not fear, little flock. Open your hands to receive the gift God is pleased to give us. Open your hands to help those in need. Open your hands. Bring the good news of the Kingdom. Our future is not in doubt. God is pleased to give us the Kingdom. Amen.