The Liturgy :
Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Old Testament - Ecclesiastes 1:2,12-14; 2:18-23
Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
I, the Teacher, when king over Israel in Jerusalem, applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with. I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind.
I hated all my toil in which I had toiled under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to those who come after me -- and who knows whether they will be wise or foolish? Yet they will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. So I turned and gave my heart up to despair concerning all the toil of my labors under the sun, because sometimes one who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave all to be enjoyed by another who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun? For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is vanity.
The Response - Psalm 49:1-11
Hear this, all you peoples;
hearken, all you who dwell in the world,
you of high degree and low, rich and poor together.
My mouth shall speak of wisdom,
and my heart shall meditate on understanding.
I will incline my ear to a proverb
and set forth my riddle upon the harp.
Why should I be afraid in evil days,
when the wickedness of those at my heels surrounds me,
The wickedness of those who put their trust in their goods,
and boast of their great riches?
We can never ransom ourselves,
or deliver to God the price of our life;
For the ransom of our life is so great,
that we should never have enough to pay it,
In order to live for ever and ever,
and never see the grave.
For we see that the wise die also;
like the dull and stupid they perish
and leave their wealth to those who come after them.
Their graves shall be their homes for ever,
their dwelling places from generation to generation,
though they call the lands after their own names.
Even though honored, they cannot live for ever;
they are like the beasts that perish.
The New Testament - Colossians 3:1-11
If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things-- anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!
The Gospel - Luke 12:13-21
Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." But he said to him, "Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?" And he said to them, "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." Then he told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, `What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, `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, `Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, `You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God."
Liturgy means “the work of the people.” We enter into this work reading and discussing scriptures together and allowing our lives to be formed by Christ and each other. Like a potluck, we each bring something to the discussion, and there is always enough.
-What thoughts / questions do you have?
-What themes or elements connect the readings?
-What action or change do they invite?
-Why was it included in the Bible?
-What genres are present in these passages?
-What emotions, human experiences are present?
-Is there any disconnect between the narrators perspective and our perspective as modern readers?
A few thoughts (from Linnea):
I recently saw a video a friend of mine posted to Facebook that addressed whether or not Jesus was a socialist and if he condemned capitalism. This video used Luke 12:13-15 to argue that Jesus had no interest in the matter whatsoever and would have very little issue with our form of capitalism today.
I would, in fact, disagree. Money, greed, and generosity were very important topics to Jesus. Along with that, Jesus consistently confronted systems of authority that oppressed and dehumanized those created in the image of God. And today, we sit and watch the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer. All in the name of capitalism. If you don’t think Jesus would care about that, you’re not reading the Gospels.
Am I suggesting capitalism is inherently evil? Not necessarily. However, we need to take care to realize how deeply our capitalist culture has shaped our worldview and our theology.
Right now, it seems like on all sides, our politics/world views are informing our theology, not the other way around. This is an incredibly dangerous place to be. It is in this place that the name of God is invoked in all kinds of corporate sin.
The way of life Jesus is inviting us into is one free from the controlling grasp of money and one governed by richness towards God, which inevitably means being rich towards those who are created in His image.
Richard Rohr puts it more elegantly…
“The capitalist world view is the only one most of us have ever known. We see reality, experiences, events, other people, and things - in fact, everything - as objects for our personal consumption. Even religion, Scripture, sacraments, worship services, and meritorious deeds become ways to advance ourselves - not necessarily ways to love God or neighbor.
The nature of the capitalist mind is that things (and often people!) are there for me. Finally, even God becomes an object for my consumption. Religion looks good on my resume, and anything deemed spiritual is a check on my private worthiness list. Some call it spiritual consumerism. It is not the Gospel.
-Richard Rorh, Yes, And… pg. 310
Jesus’ message/the Good News: The Kingdom of God is near…
In this new kingdom…
-resources are not limited; abundance is reality
-no one is more deserving than the next
-money does not control decisions; love does
-the reality of death is held in tension with the experience of fulness of life
-we recognize the importance of the other and of the whole; not just myself or my family…
Being rich toward God = Being rich towards your neighbor.
A FEW QUESTIONS TO PONDER…
If being rich toward God = being rich towards your neighbor, how do we define: Who is our neighbor?
What is a kingdom? What does Jesus mean when he says he is establishing a new kingdom?
What is a modern day translation of the Luke parable?
Why does Paul equate greed with idolatry?
Why do we avoid thinking/talking about death? In what ways would it help us to talk about it more often?
This is the table of Christ. Here we remember God’s love and acceptance for humans. Here we remember our connection with all humankind. All are invited to come and eat. So come.
You who have much faith and you who have little. You who have been here often and you who are new. You who have tried to follow and you who have failed.
Come, Because it is our Divine Mother who invites us. It is her desire that we meet her here together.
Adapted from Saint Teresa of Calcutta
Make us worthy, Lord, to serve others throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger - whether spiritual, emotional, or physical.
Give them through our hands this day their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give peace and joy.