July 31st, 2022
WELCOME AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Let me remind you quickly of our protocols for everyone’s safety.
· Attendance was taken by Ushers as you entered.
· masks are required by those not vaccinated as well as social distancing
· Offerings may be placed in the plate by the doors.
· Please write your prayer request on the Yellow cards. An usher will pick them up during the 1st hymn.
· Please join us after service for fellowship in Calvin Hall
Gary Iverson, Bob Bock, Joan Boyd, Wanda Hirl, Marilyn Neymeyer, Joan Pinkston, Maxine Wagner, Annette Conzett, Jo Lefleur, Judy Welcher, Dr Dyke, Harlan Marx, Lois Seger, Jon Ryner, Abagail Niles, Helanah Niles, Werner & Kelly Families, Kolleen’s , Ukraine, Arlene Pawlik, Angela and Tristan, Bonnie Pillers, Deb Weller, and Linda Wenzel.
*PSALTER Psalm 107:1-9, NIV
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story--
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
3 those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.
4 Some wandered in desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle.
5 They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away.
6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
7 He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.
8 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
9 for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
Lord, as you have gathered us from many backgrounds and places to be your people, so we gather this day to honor and worship you. We come singing your praise, listening to your words, offering our prayers and our lives to your service. Be present with us. Fill us once again with good things that our spiritual hunger and thirst might also be filled this day. Amen.
*HYMN Sing Praise To God Who Reigns Above #483
*INVITATION TO CONFESSION Colossians 3:1-11, NIV
“Since you were brought back to life with Christ, focus on the things that are above—where Christ holds the honored position—the one next to God the Father on the heavenly throne. 2 Keep your mind on things above, not on worldly things. 3 You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 Christ is your life. When he appears, then you, too, will appear with him in glory. 5 Therefore, put to death whatever is worldly in you: your sexual sin, perversion, passion, lust, and greed (which is the same thing as worshiping wealth). 6 It is because of these sins that God’s anger comes on those who refuse to obey him. 7 You used to live that kind of sinful life. 8 Also get rid of your anger, hot tempers, hatred, cursing, obscene language, and all similar sins. 9 Don’t lie to each other. You’ve gotten rid of the person you used to be and the life you used to live, 10 and you’ve become a new person. This new person is continually renewed in knowledge to be like its Creator. 11 Where this happens, there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, uncivilized person, slave, or free person. Instead, Christ is everything and in everything.”
Let us confess our shortcomings to the Lord:
Merciful God, you intended us to live as new creatures in Christ, and yet old habits are hard to break and the ways of the world around us are hard to avoid. We slip into thought patterns and behaviors that don’t suit our new nature, because they do not honor you. We may easily say we don’t have any of the sins named in one particular scripture, but we might just as easily ignore some other attitude or habit that is equally disrespectful to you our Creator and Savior. Forgive us once again for all that is sinful within us. Cleanse us and heal us that we may better live as your children in this world. Amen.
*WORDS OF ASSURANCE Colossians 3:3-4, NIV
Let us remember scripture’s promise. “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Christ is your life. When he appears, then you, too, will appear with him in glory.” It is through Christ we are forgiven. Thanks be to God!
*SONG OF PRAISE Gloria Patri #579
PASSING THE PEACE (facing those across the aisle from you)
Left: May the peace of Christ be with you.
Right: And also with you. May the peace of Christ be with you.
Left: And also with you.
Hosea 1:1-11, GNT
11 The Lord says, “When Israel was a child, I loved him and called him out of Egypt as my son. 2 But the more I called to him, the more he turned away from me.
My people sacrificed to Baal; they burned incense to idols. 3 Yet I was the one who taught Israel to walk. I took my people up in my arms, but they did not acknowledge that I took care of them. 4 I drew them to me with affection and love. I picked them up and held them to my cheek; I bent down to them and fed them. 5 “They refuse to return to me, and so they must return to Egypt, and Assyria will rule them. 6 War will sweep through their cities and break down the city gates. It will destroy my people because they do what they themselves think best. 7 They insist on turning away from me. They will cry out because of the yoke that is on them, but no one will lift it from them. 8 “How can I give you up, Israel? How can I abandon you? Could I ever destroy you as I did Admah, or treat you as I did Zeboiim? My heart will not let me do it! My love for you is too strong. 9 I will not punish you in my anger; I will not destroy Israel again. For I am God and not a mere human being. I, the Holy One, am with you. I will not come to you in anger. 10 “My people will follow me when I roar like a lion at their enemies. They will hurry to me from the west. 11 They will come from Egypt, as swiftly as birds, and from Assyria, like doves. I will bring them to their homes again. I, the Lord, have spoken.”
Luke 12:13-21, CEB
13 Someone from the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”14 Jesus said to him, “Man, who appointed me as judge or referee between you and your brother?” 15 Then Jesus said to them, “Watch out! Guard yourself against all kinds of greed. After all, one’s life isn’t determined by one’s possessions, even when someone is very wealthy.” 16 Then he told them a parable: “A certain rich man’s land produced a bountiful crop. 17 He said to himself, What will I do? I have no place to store my harvest! 18 Then he thought, Here’s what I’ll do. I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. That’s where I’ll store all my grain and goods. 19 I’ll say to myself, You have stored up plenty of goods, enough for several years. Take it easy! Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself. 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool, tonight you will die. Now who will get the things you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 This is the way it will be for those who hoard things for themselves and aren’t rich toward God.”
SERMON “The Danger of Greed”
“Mine!” It’s a word humans seem to adopt early in life, even as toddlers. Eventually it is followed by the word “More!” because we never seem to be satisfied.
We want more; we want better. Then in pursuit of the most and the best; we accumulate stuff. We stuff our lives with stuff!
The parable Jesus told about our accumulated stuff always reminds me of my dad’s friend, Leonard, once teasing me that my dad was looking at a property with three barns on it. Three barns will hold a lot of stuff. But dad already has a property with two houses. The little house mom and I used to live in is filled with stuff, and the basement of the house they built further back is full of stuff. I can’t blame dad for too much of this though. While the appliances he acquired when he was a Frigidaire repairman or some of the clothes he has never used are dad’s responsibility, not all of the stuff is his. Some of it is mine, my grandparents’, his mother’s, and his aunt’s. We all left our stuff in his care, and he is stuck with it. Mom and dad worked hard in their 80s to start sorting through all this stuff. There were rummage sales and donations and trash bins. Her last few months dad would bring mom a box of old papers: letters, magazines, and such, because she could still work through that from her chair. I give him credit for working away at it, but I don’t honestly see an end to it, even when it becomes my task or my daughters’.
But as I picture all of dad’s stuff in my mind, I have to look at my own. As my favorite pastor back home used to say, “When I point a finger at you; there are three more pointing back at me.” I also have too much stuff though I cut it in half leaving the parsonage, more moving into the apartment, and lots more leaving the apartment. But there is stuff from a storage locker I need to remove from your room upstairs. Some of it landed in my garage along with stacks of boxes from moving to the house. Then my basement filled up with stuff from Jessika’s apartment. I need to be working at sorting through my stuff just as much as dad does.
If you look again at the parable from Luke’s gospel, he uses the word greed and describes it with the barns full of stuff in this story. Ouch! I don’t think of my family as greedy. But I would have to question that when I open a shopping website in search of something I want. “No Kolleen you don’t need another shirt, you have dozens!” And I close the tab, well except this week. So, confession: I bought shirts, shorts, and pjs this week, but I will wear them for a decade or more. The concept behind my annual search for things to donate out of my cupboards and closets is based on this principle. “If I’m not using it but someone else could, why is it in my closet?” A recent purge of accumulated jewelry felt great since I hardly wear jewelry in my retirement.
We don’t think of ourselves as greedy, and yet…Jesus tells us to “guard against all kinds of greed,” because “life does not consist of an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15) The Greek word for possession refers to property or wealth. I found a curious phrase in one definition, “indulged in.” It is true that I indulge in more than I need. The word used here for abundance means “overflowing” and “excessive.” It can mean “lavished” or summarized as “more than enough.” (All these definitions come from NIV Exhaustive Concordance.)
Do you begin to see some distinctions? There is nothing wrong with having the stuff we need. But when we become obsessive about possessions and accumulating more, then we have a problem. There is an attitude issue here. It might be worth asking “Why do I want more? Why do I think I need more?” In fact a common question to ask oneself when making a purchase would be, “Is this a want or a need?” I might go on to ask myself, “Is this just going to sit on a shelf? Or is it going to improve my quality of life?” What may seem like a waste of money and space to someone else, might improve my quality of life. The indulgence I see that way in my own life is music, but as I treat myself to the next Kpop album I want, I wonder what my daughters are going to do to get rid of them someday.
One concept I want to convey as a Christian exploring the sin of greed comes from Paul’s letter to the Philippians 4:12. The Contemporary English Version reads like this, “I know what it is to be poor or to have plenty, and I have lived under all kinds of conditions. I know what it means to be full or to be hungry, to have too much or too little.” The word translated here as plenty is the same Greek word as in the parable meaning wealthy. It is that overflowing abundance which is more than enough. The word translated here as poor also means humble. The word used at the end of this verse, “want” has a harsher meaning: to be lacking or deprived. It is having less than enough. Paul knew both extremes of this continuum. He learned how to live at either end or in the middle. But most of our society dreams of living on the upper end of that scale and pities those at the bottom. The culture around us has taught us to value abundance and wealth rather than humble means. I was surprised when I looked at the verse in Greek to discover that the word included in many translations, the word “content” doesn’t have a Greek word behind it. Many English translations have added that concept because the next phrase means whether I’m satisfied or hungry. Let me share a couple more translations that might be closer to the original intent. “I have learned the secret of how to live through any kind of situation.” (ERV) or the full clause, “I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (ESV) What I get out of this discovery is that Paul wasn’t telling the Philippians to stick a happy face on a painful situation. His emphasis was more on learning the secret to survive it. His secret of course comes in the next verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Multiple versions translate Phil. 4:13 this way.
But I like this realistic version, “I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength.” (CEB) That verse got me through the first half of this month and will hopefully get me through the PET scan on Friday.
We too may know times of want and times of plenty, or find we are lacking something in one area of life while we have abundance in another. Paul has shared with us his secret for surviving what we lack. So the next question is what do we do with our abundance. Luke tells us Jesus’ answer is NOT to build bigger barns. I think the obvious biblical answer is to share with those who have less.
Possessions are not the only things about which humans are greedy. If I think about what else is listed among the seven deadly sins, I think greed is behind many of them. If envy is wanting what someone else has not only in terms of possession but also characteristics, talents, status, etc., then that is also a kind of greed. Isn’t gluttony being greedy about food? Isn’t lust being greedy about the gift of our sexual nature? What about the lust for power? It is the greedy desire for excess that leads us to sin in various areas of our lives.
But this is not only true for individuals, it is true in society among groups and structures. Think about it historically. Greed drove the acquisition of power and empires. Greed divided people into classes or caste systems. Greed accumulated great wealth while driving others into poverty. Greed decided my way is best, so let’s invalidate yours. Sadly those attitudes still exist all around us.
There is nothing wrong with influence or property or intelligence or education or money or anything of the sort. It is how we think about it and how we use it that makes the difference between serving God or being greedy. Whether it is as a person or as a people, if we use the resources with which we have been blessed to bless others or to care for the earth, that is mission and service. But if we horde them for our own pleasure or to be better than someone else, worse yet in a way that would abuse someone else or the earth, that is greed!
In the parable of the barns, as I am going to call it, the morale of the story seems to be that all the accumulation and hording was pointless. The person in the parable did not live long enough to use what was saved. It calls to my mind the stewardship parable of the talents. What was invested on the master’s behalf increased and those servants were praised for using it wisely. But the one who buried the small portion he had received just wasted it. Burying it was of no use to anyone. In this story the amounts given to each steward are not the point. The point is whether each one wasted or invested whatever they were given. So too it would seem that what is stored in the barns of our gospel story is also wasted, for it is never put to use. Greed did not accomplish much.
What follows the parable of the barns in Luke 12, is Luke’s version of a favorite section of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s gospel. “And life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap; they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!” (Luke 12:23-24) This passage invites us to trust God rather than worry too much about our needs. It’s the lesson God tried to teach the Hebrews during the Exodus. Gather what you need for today, but don’t be greedy about it. It’s good stewardship to be fiscally responsible for the future, but not to be obsessive and miserly about it. God was the one who gave Egypt seven years of abundance to store up and survive seven years of famine. But God was also the one who made sure the widow of Zarephath had just enough oil and flour each day to share a meal with Elijah.
I think the antidote to greed is generosity. When you have more than enough then you can spare something to share with others who are in need. That should be true of power and influence and a voice in decisions as well as sharing from any abundance of food or clothing or shelter. The spiritual gift of generosity includes not only the e to share but also the ability to earn and manage resources. Again those resources can be anything from food to influence. There’s a Wesleyan principle related to all this; in short form is recommends, “Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can.”
I invite you in coming days to consider the variety of resources at your disposal. How did you earn them? What do you save for future needs? What can you give to meet another’s need? Remember that not all of your resources are tangible items, some are your gifts and abilities. Take inventory of what you have as a household, as a church, as a community, as a wider society and people. Then invite the Holy Spirit to guide your use and investment of all you have. In the process may you notice how truly blessed you are by God!
*HYMN More Love to Thee, O Christ #359
*PASTORAL PRAYER AND LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, now and forever. Amen.
OFFERING OUR LIVES
Gracious God, you have provided all we truly need in this life and oft times blessings far beyond just those needs. We give you thanks and praise for loving us and caring for us as now we offer all that we are and all that we have back to you in lives of thanksgiving and praise. Amen.
*DOXOLOGY Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow #592
*AFFIRMATION Apostle’s Creed (Ecumenical) p. 14
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day He rose again.
He ascended into heaven
He is seated at the right hand of the Father,
And He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen.
*HYMN Take My Life #391
*CHARGE & BLESSING
* Sections of the service preceded with * are times to stand if you are able to do so.
Bold text is to be read together aloud as a congregation.
Some of today’s liturgy came from the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship