Grace and peace to you, from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Do you ever talk to yourself? Out loud? I do, all the time! I used to get strange looks as I walked down the sidewalk, talking out loud to myself. But now, people just assume that I’m on my phone. Thank goodness for earbuds!
The rich fool in Jesus’s story is sitting in his house talking to himself about what he is going to do with the great harvest he has just brought in. He has so much grain he has no place to store it! I used to think this man was called foolish because he was just greedy. I have come to see that he is also a fool because he is turned in on himself. He lives his life only for himself. Even all his plans are for himself! He says to himself “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ ”
“Eat drink and be merry” was a common saying in the ancient world. Except this man has left out the ending, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.” And that is just what happens to this man. God said to him, “You fool! This very night, your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?”
So, what are we to take from this parable? Life is more than how much stuff we have. We are called to be in relationship with God and with each other. We are to turn outward and see what God is calling us to do in the world. It is hard to love your neighbor when you are turned in on yourself, like this rich man. We are so bombarded with messages calling us to buy material things, it is hard to remember we are called to love our neighbors – all our neighbors. It’s not about the stuff we have, it’s about how we see our neighbors. Do we see them as children of God, in need of our help? Can we take out our earbuds, turn off Facebook, and stop texting, long enough to see the need all around us?
That is what we are called to do. We at Dobbs Ferry Lutheran have a line item in our budget called “First Fruits.” We contribute a percentage your contributions to eight organizations every month, as our way of following God’s call to care for our neighbors. These organizations help our neighbors in many ways. We do this because it is part of who we are as a congregation. In response to God’s call to love our neighbors. These are troubling times for many churches. Contributions to all charities (including churches’ charitable giving) have fallen in these past few years of Covid. But our faith calls us to continue our commitment to give that same level support to those in need, through First Fruits.
We are also called to love our neighbors with our time and talents, reaching out to care for immigrants and refugees; continuing to contribute our time to assembling personal care kits, which we will be blessing as they are sent out in September. And as always, I encourage you to reach out to your neighbors, even if it is just by saying “hello” and smiling. It is amazing how much just doing that can make someone’s day. So go out find someone to reach out to. Find someone who just needs someone to listen. And contribute what you can so that we can continue God’s work in our own neighborhoods. Amen.