Trust. Spend. Give. Believe. Repeat. The Vicar’s Sermon Last Sunday

Year A – Proper 25 — October 26, 2014 — The Rev Lisa G. Fischbeck — @TheAdvocate

Trust. Spend. Give. Believe. Repeat.

 

At the end of his sermon last Sunday,

Sam Laurent offered us a spiritual discipline.

“When you empty your pocket change at the end of the day”,

he said,

“or happen to glance at a dollar,

take a second to find those words. ‘In God We Trust’.

In light of the Incarnate economy, each coin, each bill

is an ironic little revolution.”

 

Now I have not talked to Sam about this since he last Sunday,

but I take his suggestion to mean this:

 

God has established an “incarnate economy”.

Which is to say, God has established an economy based on God’s deep care for the world God created,

and, perhaps especially,

for the human beings created in God’s own image to dwell in that world.

An incarnate economy gives priority value to the creation, dignity and inter-relatedness of human beings,

God being so deeply invested in this economy

so as to at one point become enfleshed,

in human form,

in the person of Jesus.

We are talking about a supremely intimate God here.

 

This kind of incarnate economy stands against

what Sam has helped us to name as an “excarnate economy”,

an economy that objectifies human beings and other creatures of our God,

seeing them as means to an end that is

in a capitalist society,

financial profit,

a means to an end that is,

in a communist society or in a dictatorship,

governmental power.

 

This objectification of human beings,

seeing them as objects of an economic industry,

as widgets rather than as creatures of God,

this objectification of human beings,

isn’t just of those who do the labor to makes stuff available.

No.

Those who purchase and sell the stuff are mere objects of the economic industry as well.

Stats on a chart.

That’s all we are.

 

So…

how we spend, how we use,

the money we’ve earned or been given,

is an opportunity to take a stand for God’s incarnate economy.

directly or indirectly made manifest by just about every word and way of Jesus.

Therein lies the opportunity for revolution.

 

In God We Trust can become our nudge,

our reminder,

to consider these things when we purchase or spend or give our money.

Are we using it in a way that magnifies the incarnate ways of God?

or

are we using it in a way that fosters widgetry?

 

So this past week I set out to take Sam’s suggestion to heart.

But truth be told,

in the last seven days,

I haven’t used any currency.

And since I keep my coins in a purse instead of a pocket,

I haven’t seen any either.

 

I did pull up an image of a quarter online, though,

so I could post it along with Sam’s sermon.

And it helped me in my pondering.

 

Nonetheless, it is worth noting

that we hardly use currency any more.

(thereby defying the legitimacy of calling it current – cy),

But it is our currency,

that bears the reminder, “In God We Trust”.

Our credit cards and debit cards don’t.

Which makes our ironic revolution a little harder to accomplish,

harder for us to remember

that we who are Christian

are playing with a different deck.

 

So if we are going to take on this discipline,

expand it even,

we are going to have to think a little harder

be a little more intentional.

We are going to have to concentrate,

maybe learn some more facts,

And pray.

 

Because this revolution isn’t just for the good of the world.

It is for the good of our own selves and souls as well.

 

Jesus says a whole lot about money.

A whole lot.

Parable after parable,

encounter after encounter.

Jesus knows,

which mean that God knows,

that where our treasure is,

how we hold it

how we loose it,

is inextricably intertwined

with where our heart is,

with what our faith is,

with who

with what

we truly trust.

 

In today’s reading for Deuteronomy,

we are given the story of the death of Moses.

In his death, we are reminded of his life.

And there has not arisen a prophet since

in the land of Israel like Moses.

whom the Lord knew face to face,

none like him for all the signs and the wonders

which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt

to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land.

and for all the mighty power and for all the great and terrible deeds

which Moses wrought in the sight of all Israel.

 

In the story of Moses we see a man who over and again

experienced and understood the incarnate workings of our God:

Basket of reeds,

nursing breast,

burning bush,

Red Sea parting,

pillar of fire,

pillar of cloud,

water from the rock,

manna in the dessert,

tablets of stone,

wilderness, land and mountains, land.

 

Over and again,

Moses sees God’s hand at work in the stuff around him.

And Moses sees it,

not as the means of his own power or gain,

security or tenure.

But as the means by which he is being lead by God

to help the people of God understand themselves to be

the people of God.

Provided for and called forth.

 

Money, wealth, material possessions,

along with gazillions of dollars worth of advertising that worms its way into our intellect, psyche and soul each day,

can tempt us into believing that money, wealth, and material possessions

are what matter most,

are what we should trust

instead of

or ahead of

God.

They are sneaky that way.

 

We need to resist that temptation.

Turn the tables, if you will.

So that how we use and spend our money,

the material stuff that we encounter or hold,

can become instead

a way for us to see and know

God’s creation,

God’s people,

and God’s Way, revealed to us in Jesus.

 

Every time we swipe our card in the little card swiper

or type our card number into the website of a business,

every time we pay a bill online

or set up an automatic withdrawal,

we are expressing our faith,

we are saying what we believe,

what we value,

who and what we trust.

 

There are many priorities that each of us needs consider and to ponder, of course –

tending to our health and well-being,

providing for our children,

 

But all in all,

we who would call ourselves Christians

are called to be mindful about our money and our possessions,

Thoughtful, intentional, prayerful,

about what they mean to us

and whether we save, spend, or give

in a way that responds to the first commandment

that we love God with all our heart, soul and might,

in a way that responds to the second commandment,

that we love our neighbor as we love ourselves,

or not.

 

To move myself a little farther along this track,

I’m going to take Sam’s suggested spiritual discipline a step further in the week ahead.

(see what you started Sam?)

On Monday, I’m going to go by the bank and get a roll of American dollar coins,

coins that bear the words,

“In God we trust”

and maybe have the image of a young native American woman on them too.

And I’m going to put them in my car’s cup holder.

 

I hope I’m not just going to keep them in that cup holder,

but take them out and look at them

(instead of my smart phone)

when I’m stopped at a red light.

And I’m going to try,

hard,

to ponder the incarnate economy of which I want to be a part.

It may not be as dramatic as a burning bush or the parting of the Red Sea.

But maybe,

just maybe,

by these red light contemplations

my faith will more and more inspire my spending,

and my spending will more and more inspire my faith.

 

I wonder how many of those coins I’ll be nudged to give away to the stranger standing by my window

holding a cardboard sign,

or maybe put into the basket under the altar at the Advocate next Sunday.

 

Amen.