31st July – Andrea’s Letter: Trinity 7 -The Rich Fool

31st July 2022

7th Sunday after Trinity                St Andrew’s Milngavie 2022 

Dear All
Today we gathered to celebrate the seventh Sunday after Trinity.
Hugh very kindly played for us.  In Gordon’s absence I am choosing the hymns, please let me know if there are any particular hymns you would like to sing, I can include them as appropriate.
Gordon remains very much in our prayers, he is still in hospital but improving.

Notices for this week:
Tuesday 10am Prayer Group in the Garden Room
Thursday 10am Said Eucharist followed by coffee in Friendship House

Readings for next Sunday – Eighth Sunday after Trinity   Genesis 15:1-6   Hebrews 11:1-3,8-16    Luke 12:32-40

Today’s readings – Luke 12:13-21        Colossians: 3:1-11.       Ecclesiastes 1:2,12-14,2:18-23

“Set your minds on things which are above not on things which are on earth”

Wise words from Saint Paul this morning but difficult to take totally at face value because of course we need a certain level of material possession in order to survive.  Therefore, we need to engage in finance, earn salaries and drew pensions.  It is not surprising then given that fact that Jesus often preached about money.

We can easily recall the incident where Jesus chased money changers from the temple, overturning their tables of coins and lashing them with a whip. He also told parables about the treasure hidden in a field, the tenants who would not pay their rent, the talents or sums of money that were loaned to three servants, the parable of two men who were forgiven their debts, one great and one small.  He told the parable of the lost coin, the prodigal son who wasted his inheritance, the woman who gave her last two coins for an offering.

He also said, “No man can serve two masters. You cannot love both God and money.”  Matt 6:24

In fact, of the 40 odd parables of Jesus recorded in the Bible, just under half of them refer to proper use of money and riches.

This morning we hear the parable of the rich fool. Jesus was teaching his disciples when he was interrupted by someone who wanted him to resolve a family dispute over inheritance.  He was not really asking for advice, he wanted Jesus to take his side and “tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Luke 12:13

But Jesus was having none of it. Instead, he told this parable, the story of the farmer who wanted to store his excess crops to secure his future. Looking at this parable closely the farmer is not portrayed as wicked – that is, he has not gained his wealth illegally or by taking advantage of others. Further, he is not portrayed as particularly greedy. Indeed, he seems to be somewhat surprised by his good fortune as he makes what appears to be reasonable plans to reap the abundance of the harvest.

What is wrong, we might therefore ask, about building larger barns to store away some of today’s bounty for a potentially leaner tomorrow?Nothing, except for two things.

First, the farmer’s consistent focus throughout the conversation he has with himself is all in the first person “What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?”

“I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul….”

The relentless use of the first-person pronouns “I” and “my” betray a preoccupation with self. There is no thought to using the abundance to help others, no expression of gratitude for his good fortune, no recognition of God at all.

This leads to his second mistake.  He is not foolish because he makes provision for the future; he is foolish because he believes that by his wealth, he can secure his future: “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”

But it doesn’t happen. In this parable Jesus reminds his followers and us that life is about more than possessions.  Life is about a loving relationship with God. That is what we are made for.  When our earthly life is over our possessions are left behind, but if we have cultivated our relationship with God, then life goes on in God’s eternal kingdom.

In Pauls letter to the Colossians, he affirms this by saying If you, the followers of Christ, have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Paul does not mean that they are already in heaven, he means that their future place in heaven is assured on account of Christ, and that the anticipation of the joy of heaven can be experienced now, for that reason they should raise their eyes heavenward where Christ has gone.

In contrast in the reading from Ecclesiastes all is woe as we are told how meaningless life can be without God “All is vanity, our days are full of pain and our work is a vexation”

What our readings are saying today is faith in God, God’s love for us as revealed in Jesus is all we need – it is enough. Enough they say is as good as a feast and the feast we have come together to share today is a reminder of God’s all sufficient love and a taster of that feast we will share in heaven.