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  • Writer's pictureDiana Wright

Hoarding


11C Pentecost 31 July 2016 Proper 13 You can’t take it with you!! In heaven there ain’t no beer, that’s why we drink it here!! Eat, drink, and be merry. This week I went to visit my daughter and her boyfriend in their new apartment in Minnesota. I could barely move in the room where she had her things. Part of the problem was a woeful lack of organization, but the major issue was the amount of stuff. It got me to thinking: when I was her age I really did not have a lot of things and it was easy to move from point A to point B. I was free. Now I have the same problem she has: too much stuff. In my case some of it is held out of sentiment; it is very hard to part with things that remind me of my childhood or my parents and some of it is growing up with parents who used and reused everything they could. However, there comes a time when things own you and you can be controlled by them. I have to spend more time cleaning and clearing than I would if I had fewer things to clean and clear. A smaller yard would mean less mowing, right? If there was less in the basement I could find things better. So it goes on and on. A pastor recently told me that, because he and his family move every so many years, they keep it down to the bare essentials. Pack it in a U-Haul. He is so right. Hoarders take things to the ultimate level of possessing. They are fully possessed by their possessions, sometimes to the point of possessions becoming a hazard to life and limb. Maybe hoarding is a form of mental illness. I think for me it is a failure to take seriously what is being said by Jesus. Greed: it is more than a craving; it is elevating the accumulation of goods to the status of a god. I believe that is something that we often do in this society. We mistake wanton accumulation for prudent planning. Certainly that is what our landowner in Luke did!! By doing so he is ignoring what is written in Hebrew scripture: all things come from God, it is to God that we give thanks for what we have; and it is with others that we share the things God gives to us. We are not the recipients of God’s bounty because we are any better than anyone else, we are the receivers because God wants to provide for and so we may in turn share it with others. The author of Luke states it so well: the wealthy landowner was not blamed because he had such a rich harvest, he was blamed for failing to be rich towards God. Rich towards God!! That is a statement that has puzzled me since I first heard it. How can I be rich towards God, God who has everything? What does it mean for me and you? I would suggest it means not taking for granted anything that comes to me and that the more I use what is given me for good for others, the more I am rich towards God. I challenge myself to become richer towards God and more thankful. One thing that I am doing this year is each month putting money in my account at Kiva, a micro lending site, and then giving out loans around the world. It feels really good to me to do this. When I get repayment I add some more and do it all over again. When I die I hope that I have dispersed a good chunk of money to a cause like this. We can be rich towards God when we put up the giving tree at Harlan, help make a space for Hispanic ministry and ministry to the Karen at Denison, and help fund theological education and discretionary funds at Carroll. We are rich towards God when we collect winter clothing to send to St. Paul’s in Sioux City. Each time you think of someone else and how you can help make their lives a bit better, you are rich towards God. Whoever authored Ecclesiastes had it well thought out: you can toil and work and accumulate all kinds of things and certainly you can eat, drink and be merry, but you will die and who knows what the next person will do with the stuff you leave behind. Waste it?? My idea of waste may be someone else’s idea of appropriate use. I wonder when the very rich die what they think about the stuff they are leaving behind. I guess they mostly wonder about the money. Did they read Ecclesiastes? Do they think life is vanity, or perhaps better translated, a fleeting breath or wind? Do they think they are more valuable because they are rich? Every time we face an election I think of words similar to our text for today, or the words of the Psalm. No matter what you are wearing, torn and faded shirt and jeans or a finally tailored suit, you will die. All of us face the same creator and the same end. The question is how do we want to face it? We need to acknowledge our past mistakes with the things entrusted to us and also acknowledge the links our own lives make to global poverty. I would like to say to my daughter: dispense with most of your things and you will find the lifting of a burden and the ability to be free. However, until I get my own house in order it is not my place to say that to others. It is, I think, fair to say to all our politicians who are claiming to represent the Christian faith, “Are you ready to give away your personal wealth, as the Gospel demands, and serve the needs of all people, or are you going to build bigger barns for you and your friends to store your harvest?” If someone does follow the Gospel, I am heading to the polls to vote for that person. In the mean time I need to get my own house in order, we need to get our parish houses in order, and then we need to work on the community, the nation, and the world. Nothing else serves to make us rich towards God. Amen.


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