(adapted from Psalm 78:52-54)
Moses makes his farewell and assures them that the Lord will continue to go with them. Moses wrote down and told them that everyone was supposed to assemble every seven years to hear the law read. Everyone included everyone--not only men but also women and children; not only the people of Israel but also aliens. Everyone.
The Lord told Moses to appoint Joshua as successor. "They're going to violate my instructions," the Lord told Moses. "I will be angry with them. They will need reminding of what I have already done for them."
What makes us feel safe? What is worth worrying about? What is important enough to us to be included in our prayers?
There was Jesus right there in front of him and what he wanted was some support in getting what seemed like to him a fair share of the family money. Well, he may not have realized yet exactly who this Jesus was. What's our excuse for the prayers we make?
One person asked the question, but Jesus gave the answer to the crowd. Yes, we all need to hear the caution, "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions."
I'm hoping that I can rest on the term "abundance" and that Jesus is giving me an o.k. to pray for a sufficiency of possessions. What does make us feel safe? What is worth worrying about? What do I pray for?
Jesus answered the man that day, as he often did, by telling a parable. A man spent a lot of effort accumulating possessions, so many that he needed more space to put them in (I'm a little concerned here because I am rather constantly complaining about not having enough closet space.) Anyway, the man in the parable was all ready to celebrate having so much stuff when God pointed out that none of the stuff would be available to him for very long, "You're dying tonight. Tomorrow, it'll be your heirs that will be enjoying those things that you were so concerned with."
Jesus said, "You've been worrying about the wrong thing. Instead of focusing on your own financial situation, think about how you can serve God."
"Do not be afraid," Jesus tells them. I looked at the preceding verses in Luke and found some specifics in what not to afraid of--what you will eat or wear or how long you will live. Just glancing at the headlines in this morning paper or the letters to the editor remind me that we, despite Jesus' words, still worry a lot. We worry about somebody else getting our share of things, encroachments on our lives in some ways, and our physical security. "Do not be afraid," Jesus tells us.
He goes on, "Sell your possessions, and give alms." Not worrying is hard enough, but giving up that very thing that I was worrying about not being enough?
Jesus reminds us that what is important for us is what we worry about. If my concern is my own security, then I will protect that security against all encroachment--real or not. But, what if my concern could somehow be how God's will would be acted out on earth, how God's love and care could be extended and expressed through my efforts--wouldn't that change my actions and thoughts and prayers? Can I trust God?
The notes to the Wesley Study Bible remind us that Methodists have a history of being concerned about the deleterious effects of riches--or worrying about having and keeping riches:
Both Jesus and Wesley had much to say about wealth and poverty. Wesley feared that riches were a sign of self-indulgence and frequently warned his Methodists to practice generosity rather than self-indulgence (see Sermons 87: "The Danger of Riches"; 108: "On Riches"; 126: "On the Danger of Increasing Riches")....Psalm 78:32-55
Prayer for Today: O Lord continue to lead us, to guide us through the wildernesses that surround us. Bring us to safety on your mountain. Amen