…The Kingdom of God is not for sale. The poor cannot buy it with their poverty any more than the rich can buy it with their riches. The Kingdom of God is God’s consummate gift, to be given to whomever God pleases, for whatever reasons please God. The catch is, you have got to be free to receive the gift. You cannot be otherwise engaged. You can not be tied up right now, or too tied down to respond. You cannot accept God’s gift if you have no hands to take it with… Barbara Brown Taylor, “The Opposite of Rich”
Last week we began a conversation about the gravitational pull money and possessions can have on us, a pull felt so great by the rich young man in last week’s gospel lesson he walked away from Jesus’s invitation, sad but unable to do otherwise. His hands were too full to receive the gift Jesus offered him, the same gift Jesus offers you today: an invitation to follow.
Like a lot of 1980s and 1990s kids, I grew up collecting baseball cards. Mickey Mantle rookie cards were fetching six-figure sums at the time. These small pieces of cardboard seemed like an appreciating asset. My friends would get a new foil-wrapped package of Topps or Upper Deck cards, tear it open to eat the brittle gum inside, and proceed to ruin them by handing them back and forth to see who they got. I, however, refused to open mine. I bought the whole season sets and stored the boxes in the top of my closet. I carted these boxes with me to every home I lived in, through military training, being stationed in Europe, moving home, having kids. They were stored in a box in our garage when Superstorm Sandy struck and drove a tree through the roof, soaking everything inside, including my previously mint 1987-1994 sets of Topps cards. I initially felt extreme loss, but then for curiosity’s sake I looked up how much they would be worth if they were still mint. These treasures would have fetched me between $4 and $15 dollars. So much for six figure rookie cards.
Let’s get real, church: how much stuff are you holding onto for the future? What do you have that you no longer need? How much time and effort did you expend to acquire things that you no longer like or enjoy? The gravitational pull of money gets to all of us in different ways. Do the things we own and invest with value prevent us from receiving good things from God today?
In the weeks ahead we will have some opportunities to donate items directly for ReGifting. To find out more, please read the announcement from that ministry team. We will also share good places where you can donate furniture, electronics, clothing, and other things that you can give back to bless somebody else. A perfect way you can bless the church would be to assess your possessions and ask yourself what you have with value that you can sell via Facebook group, Craigslist, classifieds, or other means… sell your items and bring the proceeds to the church as an outward sign of an inward reorientation toward goods. Let’s keep our hands open to receive the gifts God sends our way every day.
Grace and Peace,