11th Sunday after Pentecost—Lectionary 18C—August 4, 2013

11th Sunday after Pentecost—Lectionary 18C—August 4, 2013

Preached at the Lutheran Church of Framingham

Start by having kids ask for cookie ingredients from congregation members

No-bake chocolate chip cookie bites (yields 18-20 bites)

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (or 8 tablespoons) unsalted softened butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (you can also use regular)

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl add the white and brown sugar and the butter. Beat the mixture on high until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add in the vanilla, salt, chocolate chips and the flour, making sure the ingredients are well combined.
  3. With a cookie scoop or spoon, scoop out the dough and begin rolling into bite-sized balls trying to keep each the same size.
  4. Place the balls on a platter and serve at room temperature. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

What if the person who had the abundance of flour and salt let his/her insecurity about not having enough trump his/her relationship with the rest of us?  What is the person with the chocolate chips had decided they were fine eating plain chocolate chips by themselves?  What if the butter forgot about the person who churned the butter after milking a cow, the cow who produced the milk, the grass that cow ate, the sun and rain that grew the grass, and the God that provided it all—and instead took all the credit for the butter?  What if the person who provided the sugar for our cookies has simply decided not to show up, let alone share?

If any of the people who provided us with the ingredients or tools to make these cookie dough bites had not be opening to sharing, to working together in community, to mixing the part they had with gifts others provided to make something better, we would not have these delicious cookie bites to eat.

Thankfully they didn’t make that choice; thankfully they were not as selfish and greedy as the farmer in Jesus’ parable.

You see, the parable is not about money or possessions; it is about greed and how it breaks down relationships.  Jesus is not condemning everyone who has money.  We read from time to time in the Bible about the financial backers of Jesus’ ministry or at least people who provide a meal and shelter for him and his disciples from time to time.  Money (and the stuff it buys) is not inherently evil.  Money can help us, help ourselves and others live the abundant lives that Jesus promises.  Jesus is not telling us all to sell everything and give all our money and possessions away.  He is just warning us against letting it get in the way of our relationship with God and God’s people.

God is the ultimate sharer—sharing abundant life, resources, love, and grace with each of us.  This sharing is meant to be a relationship, a two-way street.  God shares gifts with us so that we can share the gifts (and simultaneously God) with others.

But sharing is not always easy or perfect.  Living connected to others, in community, can be very messy and is hard work.  Sometimes it seems as if keeping to ourselves might be the easier life.  Our fears and insecurities cause us to retreat into the thinking that we can only trust ourselves, rely on ourselves, and that we only lose, not gain anything, in relationship.

It is those same insecurities and uncertainties that cause us to live such materialist/consumer lives.  We yearn for a quick fix or simply do not trust that we will ever have the abundance in community that God provides, so we try to gain security and happiness through products instead of relationship with God and God’s people.

This is why commercials are so successful, they first point out things that we are already insecure about to make us even more fearful and they offer a remedy that promises to make our lives better.

We let scarcity and fear rule our lives instead of God’s promise of abundance.  When we feel a lack, we tend to hoard what we have, but when we realize that God’s abundance is a reality, we are freed to share because our fears are overcome by abundance.

No one seemed to have a problem sharing the ingredients and tools they had to help make the cookies, so why can’t we do that with all the gifts God gives us?  Why are we so afraid that we do not have enough time, talents, and energy to spend more of it helping others?  Why can’t we trust that if we donate some money, food, or others items to a good cause that there will still be enough to survive?

God has given us a life full of abundance.  Although that abundance looks different for each person, it exists in one form or another as Jesus promises.  So instead of building bigger barns to hoard what God has given you, just in case, why not share that abundance, because when God is at work, the communal product tends to be a whole lot bigger, better, and tastier than the sum of its parts.  Amen.

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