Christ in All

Bethany Retreat Center, Lutz, Florida

August 4, 2019

Luke 12:13-21

In Christ there is no division!

“There is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all” (Col 3:11). Feel free to add what other divisions we may witness out there to this list. Simply put, Jesus tells us that there is no difference among God’s creation.

We are the ones to make up the differences. We have created the idea of race. We have created the concept of political parties. Those that have and those that have not. We have made our own categories of what we think is right and what we think is wrong. Evil creates differences and tries to separate the people of God through means like the two mass shootings that have happened in our country in the last 24 hours, in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Yet, Christ is in all! This can be hard to comprehend in times like this.

When I woke up this morning my hear broke even more after hearing of the Dayton shooting in the early hours of the morning. How often does this have to happen for people to raise their voices and a difference is made. We create differences that are not their in God’s eyes.

In God’s reign there are no differences and we encounter the grace of God in ways that are beyond our current understanding.

The rich man in Jesus’ parable likes to set himself apart and above others so that he can live prosperously. In other words, he is taking more than his daily bread that we pray for in the Lord’s prayer. Now, wealth is not a bad thing!

However, it is the person in the crowd asking Jesus to tell his brother to split the family inheritance that provokes the telling of this parable. The person in the crowd is most likely the younger of the two and thus according to Jewish inheritance traditions would not receive much. He wants what he believes is due to him. The rich man is not much different. He has done well farming his land and has been blessed with an abundance of crops. Instead of ensuring that those in the community are cared for, he is just going to build a bigger barn.  

We are good at building places to put our stuff. We buy bigger houses so that all our stuff can be contained. If we cannot buy a bigger house than we buy a storage unit so that we can collect more stuff. While George Carlin could be profane at times in his standup comedy, his social commentaries were many times spot on. His routine on our obsession with stuff is about as absurd as the rich man tearing down his barns to build even bigger barns.

In some form or another, we have probably all done it at one point though. We got a bigger car because we needed. We got a bigger house because we needed. We rented a storage facility because we needed it.

Instead of a new life in Christ, we can easily get wrapped up in the material stuff of the world. The person that asks Jesus for a share of the family inheritance is more concerned for himself. The rich man is more concerned about living the good life and stockpiling so that he can eat, drink, and be merry. They are concerned with worldly richness, not being rich toward God.

Paul has addressed some of the same concerns to the communities he has preached. In the letter to the Colossians he reiterates the importance of Christ and the freedom that now exists. This freedom should be lived as a new life in Christ and not of the world. Paul’s letter was written nearly 2000 years ago and sometimes we get caught up in his choice of words.

Sojourners magazine recently published an issue of letters to the Christian church in America from Christians around the world. These letters may have been some of the very things that Paul, himself, would write to us today. I would encourage you to read the letter from Kuki Rokhum in India.

We are blessed to have the opportunity to worship together this morning where some of our siblings around the world do not have that freedom. We are blessed with a great abundance that we quite often take for granted. More importantly, we must remember that we are not blessed because of where we live, but because we are children of God. We are created in God’s image. In this we should be reminded that there are no differences or division in God’s eyes, only the ones we have created in our own. For Christ is in all and in God’s reign there is no difference and we encounter the grace of God in ways that are beyond our current understanding.

Let us pray. God of unity, you are Christ in All. May we be open to seeing that in our neighbors and strangers alike. May we worry less about our worldly wealth and focus on the wealth that can only be found in you. Amen.

An Abundance of Things?!?


Luke 12:13-21

Grace and Peace to you from our Triune God. Amen.

In less than two weeks I will have the opportunity to travel to Orlando for the Annual Chapter meeting of the Order of Lutheran Franciscans. I am looking forward to meeting people that I have only got to know through our Facebook cloister and reconnecting with some great friends that I have already met in person. It will be a time of renewal and spiritual formation. It will be a time with God at San Pedro Retreat Center and a time of reflection. Each of us are called to live a life of abundance with God, and this is the way that connects with me to do so.

During this time with my brothers and sisters in the Order of Lutheran Franciscans I will take the vows of the Order as a novice. I have been on a journey with the Franciscans since January of 2015 and was excited to see the little publicity we received a couple of months ago in the Living Lutheran magazine. As I agree to the General Rule of the order, I will be making the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Keeping in mind, that these vows are interpreted in different ways depending on what your life looks like.

As we listen to our gospel lesson this morning from Luke, we hear of the rich man with so much abundance that he has to tear down one barn and build a much bigger one so that he can store up all of his harvest and live off from it for years to come. I am reminded at this point of the vow of poverty that I must make when I enter as a novice in the Order of Lutheran Franciscans.

Of all the vows that I have to follow, I will admit that it is the vow of poverty that I have the biggest challenge. I admit that I like things. New things. Shiny things. Things that promise to make life easier. Things that will help me be better or do better in my hobbies, like running. I also have a fondness for books. If you look in my office, that is just a small fraction of my collection. The rest of them take up close to three – six foot book shelves in my home office. I also like my collection of shoes, from my Vans for every liturgical season, to my running shoes, to the other random shoes that I own. I honestly do own more shoes than my wife!

So, as I come to the vow of poverty, you may possibly see why I struggle a little. As Franciscans, we are called to live lives of simplicity and when I look in my closet or on my bookshelves I wonder how I could possibly part with any of them. I can now see how the rich man struggles with where he is going to put everything. I struggle with where I am going to put all of my shoes!

I like to call all of my books and shoes a collection. This makes it sound a little better. Maybe this is me just trying to justify those things that I own. I admire those that can live simply with just the basic needs. Doing so allows a person to step away from the non-stop advertising and media blitz that we encounter on a daily basis that is constantly selling us stuff. I recently read a book by M.T. Anderson titled, Feed, in which people had an electronic device implanted in them that provided them with a constant stream of news and advertisements.  The scary thing is that something like that is a possibility.

I believe one of Jesus’ main points he is trying to make with the parable of the rich man that he shares is, what are we holding in our lives that is taking the place of God? What is our idol? Do I regard my shoes and books as an idol? I would hope not, and I think that I could easily part with them if I had to. The rich man, however, wants to store up everything he has so he can live easy the rest of his life. If you read the parable again, you will notice there is no mention of anyone else. Just the rich man. His foremost concern seems to be for himself.

Through the parable, Jesus is reminding the disciples that one’s life does not exist in the abundance of possessions. Therefore, the two brothers arguing over the inheritance is of no concern of Jesus. He attempts to guide them in the correct way and turn them away from their greed and their reliance on abundance.

We all place an importance on certain things in our lives. We store up with the hopes of reaching a certain point. What are you storing in your barn? Are you building an abundant life with God?

One way to do that is through our sacraments. This morning we will have the opportunity to celebrate a baptism that marks a commitment to follow God. We will also have the opportunity to come forward and receive communion at the Lord’s Table. It is in these sacraments that we are continually fed by Jesus Christ and enter into a relationship and build upon the abundance of God in our lives. May you live richly into the life that God is calling you to live.