There is a lot of nonsense spoken about the unsatisfactory nature of a life of plenty, with money to burn: how happiness is at a premium among the rich and cosseted and the corrosive effect of materialism. This sermon points out that being rich might not be so bad after all – but that spiritual poverty is the real possibility to be avoided.
“ Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. “
How would you like to win the lottery?
What do you think,
when you read of some company director
getting a golden - handshake of
five million pounds?
How do you react to a top footballer
getting a new contract for
£100, 000 a week?
Do you envy them?
The dot-com millionaires?
The management buy-out fat cats?
The Lottery Rollover Jackpot winners?
Do you envy them ?
The glitzy footballers’ wives,
the 20 million dollar a movie film stars?
The rich who swell the pages of “ Hello” magazine?
Do you envy them?
if I’m honest.
Sometimes I wonder
what it would be like,
what difference it would make.
I don’t think I’d be one of those who
“ Won’t let the money change my life!”
we can understand why people,
noses pressed against the window,
hunger for the lucky break,
he get-rich-quick scheme.
“Just a few million to tide us over.
That’s all we would need
to get by
to make life good.”
And we glance enviously in the direction of
the people who’ve “got it all.”
That longing is reinforced by the “isms”
that try to convince us that here is where
All attempt to give some kind of philosophical respectability
to the hunger in us for stuff, for things,
“Things that money can buy”
“Experiences that money can buy.”
From time to time, the church has sounded a warning:
indicated that maybe money isn’t everything!
That there are elements to happiness
that money can’t buy.
And the poor little rich girls
And the spend, spend, spend
Self- destructive billionaire
the E- type jag crashing coke-sniffing, home-destroying
rich playboy who wrecks his life -
these are paraded as a stern warning to us all
that those who put their trust in wealth
as the source of their happiness
are buying a pup.
Now, while the record shows
that there have been unhappy millionaires,
and that some of those who aspire
to great wealth - and get it,
are actually a bit disappointed by what they find,
-the reality is
and the yachts in the marinas of Monaco seem to suggest the truth is…unpalatable to the purists though it be –
the truth is…
there are plenty of people who do seem to find
some kind of happiness,
some quality of happiness
in their possessions and their jet set lifestyle!
If it were painfully obvious how ghastly it is
to have loads of dosh,
people would soon sniff out the fraudulent nature
and start looking for some other satisfaction,
It is naïve to suggest that wealth = misery.
And yet the warning note is well-sounded…
If we allow ourselves to believe
that those who live
luxurious and enviable lifestyles
do really “ have it all!”
we may be quite mistaken.
It’s really the crucial question of
Who we are?
What kind of beings are we humans?
And what ultimately are our real needs?
For the Bible indicates that it is tragically possible
to be well provided for- in a material sense
and yet to be an utter pauper
in the spiritual sense!!
That’s the crux of the matter…
It is possible to appear to have very little
in material terms -
and yet to be rich beyond measure
in spiritual terms.
The key issue is-
Are we in this for eternity-
or are we merely here for our three score and ten…
(So let’s get down to making the most of it.
No holds barred!) ?
Are there elements in us -
spiritual elements -
that endure… and shape us;
prepare and steady us
for our eternal destiny -
and which - if we neglect and ignore
in our convulsive quest for “things”
then these capacities, potentials, wither and die?
To our most profound loss!
So that we find eternity approaching us
only to discover… we have nothing
Our shroud really has no pockets!
We actually can’t take it with us!
And we stand before eternity
naked and shivering…
The spiritual being we were meant to be, starved to death;
And the spiritual life we were meant to explore and grow,
withered on the vine.
The worst-case scenario has occurred
We have gained the whole world -
And lost our soul!
And what can a person give
in return for their soul?
It turns out to be the worst deal we ever did.
We trade of our true self
our true destiny and dignity as a child of God –
and the opportunity to live that life
in communion with Him…
We give all that up
For trinkets and baubles and ephemeral tat.
Like the Native American Indians…
We’ve sold Louisiana for a bag of glass beads
that look shiny in the sunlight
but are worthless.
That’s the issue:
are we in this business of being
for the long haul?
What is our status…temporal or eternal?
And in the scale of that eternity
what do the years of our working life,
our years of accumulation add up to…
compared with the possibilities
and importance of eternity?
Or as they used to say,
Are you ready to meet your maker?
They have a shocking practice in India
whereby professional beggars
will tie up limbs until the limbs
starved of blood,
become dead and useless…
They do this
in order to make things even more appalling for themselves
and therefore, the appeal to compassion
more effective and telling.
In our culture,
there are people who cut off the flow of blood
to their spiritual side…
fail to feed their souls
until that whole part of them
that whole aspect of their nature
is atrophied and useless.
The words of faith and spirituality
The possibilities for the soul
the deep things of prayer and worship
are brusquely brushed aside
in the rush to the market place…
And there’s just nothing in there anymore!!
Only lives defined by appetite - and “experiences”
There is only “now”
There is no thought of “forever.”
There is only short term:
no consideration of the possibility of long-term.
And in our choices, we all have to make a judgement…
Is that the dream deal?
Stuff – now ?
Energies committed to accumulating?
Even on our own small scale way…
Is this still the pre-occupation?
Or does that end up being the nightmare scenario?
We seem to have everything
And, in fact, we have nothing…
that prepares us for eternity?
What’s it to be for us?
The bread that goes stale:
the food that becomes decayed and dangerous -
or the food that lasts to eternal life.
You would think there was no contest !
But it is a battle for the soul,
that takes place
in the life of everyone.
And the way we get the food that lasts for eternal life
is so easy
it’s possible to miss its nearness.
It’s the gift of Christ!
The Son will give us it -
when we refuse the great deception
confront the Big Lie,
and embrace his will:
open our hearts to his call
to follow and love him.
And when we do that -
he will bring life to the dead zone,
that used to be our spiritual possibility!!
He will awaken the dead part of us
with his shout of welcome.
He will stir the embers of our spiritual potential:
and new priorities will determine our programme.
And, a new awareness of who we are,
and why we are here
and what life is for
Will be ignited in our soul.
This is why the Church is so important…
and why it is so vital that we tell the story,
Sound the warning note:
that we sing the songs,
say the prayers and live the life.
So that people can be kept alive to the reality
that the world of greed and getting
the pulsating power of the advertising media
selling us their hollow dreams,
is not the truth about us!
When they tell us, with such persuasive skill,
that this is who we are
This is all we are…
Units of production
The church declares -
We are children of God!
Made to know him:
and to love him:
first and foremost
And until that part of us is acknowledged,
Honoured and celebrated,
Then we are all at sea!
We are way off beam.
We are lost.
We are dying.
So the Church keeps saying the same thing:
“ Find life in Jesus Christ
And let your soul be fed
By his love,
And his spirit.
Choose the food that lasts for eternal life…”
Man shall not live by bread alone…
Seek first the kingdom of God…