Give It Away
Preaching on the lectionary passages from Luke over the last couple months has brought me up against a persistent theme in Luke’s gospel: give it away. One could put it more eloquently, I suppose: “one cannot serve both God and stuff”; one’s hands cannot be both full of money and full of the kingdom; etc . . . but it seems that many of the ethical injunctions that arise from Jesus’ teachings amount to “Give it away.” Like a father giving all of his property to his two impoverished sons; or a host giving away food to the poor in the neighborhood; or a crafty manager giving away his master’s income (to the master’s delight).
What are you and your congregation giving away?
Perhaps in an itch for a complete season of spring, my household is on a decluttering binge. We could have a yard sale, I suppose. We could put everything in the garage and tag it with prices so as to return some cash on things unused for a decade. But it’s so much faster just to give it away (especially to the Thrifty Shopper, whose ministry will bless at least two other groups with our donations). So we give stuff away. And our life gets lighter, and the house gets bigger.
Our congregations are good at fundraisers and passing plates. We even do rummage sales and yard sales. And these have their place. And at the same time. . . what are we giving away?
Are we giving away food to the hungry? Are we giving away opportunity to the poor?
Are we giving away time to the suffering? Are we giving away talents to the struggling?
Are we giving away power—to make coffee, to lead ministries, to speak in worship?
Are we giving away hope, or do we find a way to make people pay for it (as if they haven’t already paid enough)?
Are we giving away gratitude, even to those who are getting paid for what they do?
Are we giving away invitations to Christ and the glory of his grace? Or would that encourage the unsavories to join us?
Like the elder son in this Sunday’s parable, we already have all the stuff of the kingdom (and more stuff than any past generation could conceive). The father knows that his responsible offspring is good at keeping things. His question is, “Child, what will you give away?”
~ emrys tyler
Cabinet Chair 2016
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