Staring at Ben Franklin’s Face

Staring at Ben Franklin’s Face

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost 
This message was shared at the Congregational Church in Exeter, UCC on July 31 2016 in Exeter, NH.

When I was a youngster, my late grandmother gave me a, crisp, brand new, green, one hundred dollar bill. It was the most money I had ever had in my possession in my entire life.

I kept it in my bed-side table, cleverly hidden under my two-VHS NFL Jerseys China tape set of The Sound of Music, just in case someone came in to rob the joint.

I remember closely and seriously studying the tiny lines that made cheap oakleys sunglasses up Franklin’s face. Trying my Fake Oakleys hardest to cheap football jerseys decode the scribble that was Nicholas F. Brady’s signature above the tiny words “Secretary of the Treasury”.

There was something all-encompassing, fascinating, captivating about this green legal tender for all debts, public and private.

I’m proud to say that I had that bill in my bedside table until I graduated from high school.

In today’s scripture we hear Jesus talking about what to do with money we get from others. A mysterious voice from the crowd sounds suspiciously familiar, it’s a voice that sounds an awful lot like my own younger brother’s plea to share that cool, crisp, hundo.

Possessions do tricky things to us as humans. Some theologians and psychologists speculate that by hoarding possessions, money, and other earthly-objects we seek an unattainable control.

So much in our lives is seemingly beyond our control. Weather, illness, tragedy, economic down-turns, death, destruction. It’s easy to see how we may be tempted to create a sense of control by stacking our possessions up in a barn.

At least you know you have that, “in the bank” so to speak, right?

Jesus issues a warning, and I don’t know about you, but if Jesus suddenly says “Beware!” I’m paying attention!

He says, “Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

Now, I’m not sure about all of you, but part Cheap NFL Jerseys of me takes issue with Jesus’ teaching here. Doesn’t Jesus know I have to pay my cell-phone bill, and fill the truck with gas, and pay the electric bill?

Doesn’t he know that I have to save for retirement, so one day I can someday in the very distant future, take Cheap Ray Bans it easy, eat, drink, DigiD and be merry? I’ll save so much that we’ll have to tear down all the barns, and build new ones to store it jordans for cheap all. Then, I’ll have all the room I need to store my wheat, my cash, my other goods. I’ll sit back and say to myself, “my friend, you have enough stored away for years to come”!

Now, THAT sounds like a great plan!

 

Ut oh.

You see, there is a reason why Jesus is issuing a warning. There is a reason why he says “Beware!”, and there is a reason we should all take out our notebooks and listen up.

It’s easy to become just like the rich man. There is something all-encompassing, fascinating, captivating, and soothing about having enough things to control for the future.

But what happens if we don’t guard against every kind of greed like Jesus wants us to?

What happens if we do fill our barns with shiny corns like Scrooge McDuck?

What happens if we keep our one hundred dollar bill neatly pressed in our bedside table, waiting for that rainy day?

Our lives become more about things, and less about God.

 

After all, we can control where our money goes, who gets our possessions after we leave this world.

We can make bold statements about how we feel with our possessions, we can control them. And It’s reassuring.

God on the other hand, not so easy to control. Just when the rich man thought he had it all figured out, God showed who was really in control, “You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you stored up?”

What if instead of possessions and money, our life became about our relationship with God.
What happens when we turn our hearts from our own control-issues, and focus on those around us?
What happens if we look up from our work, and look upon those who have nothing?

This is what it is to be Christian, my Family.

We build our lives around God and in turn learn to love those around us, our fellow humankind, rather than Ben Franklin’s face.

We come to realize that ‘we’re all in this together’ and that life indeed is not measured by how much you own, but how much you change cheap oakleys the world for the better.

 

Down south, in Cambridge Massachusetts where I live, just outside the MIT dining hall is a stone set in the ground. On its face it reads, “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.”

It’s a quote by Steve Jobs. It’s also what Jesus Cheap Ray Ban Sunglasses is teaching us in today’s passage from Luke.
When we focus on God, we go to bed at night knowing that we’ve done something wonderful.

We still have to plan for retirement, pay our cell phone bill, put gas in the truck, and keep the lights on, but nfl jerseys china when we focus on God and let go of jordans for sale our possessions, we make room in our hearts to do something wonderful.

God opens the door for us to show our Christianity to the world. To show the world love, patience, forgiveness, and hope.

Life becomes less about that hundo, in our bed-side table, and more about what we do with the gifts that God gives us. How do we do a little something wonderful every day?

How do we free ourselves from the power of possessions, and be closer with God and ourselves?

Jesus tells us, focus on building a relationship with God, learn from one another, listen to the story of someone who is different from you, cry with someone in pain, rejoice with those who are celebrating, read an really old book, learn the ways of love and justice.

For at the end of it all, God is in control, as uneasy as that might make us all feel. And we are only stewards of these things we have on earth, for it all returns to God in the end my response.

 

So, “Beware!” Random person in the crowd, because we have to guard against every kind of greed.

We have to share God’s love with the world, rather than store it up for ourselves.
For that is what builds real wealth.

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About the Author:

Chris Breen
I'm a Red-letter, Non-denominational, Jesus-Loving, Change-agent, Gay, Rule-breaker. I live in Boston and am a Pastor for Journey.
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