Invest In People - July 31, 2022
Pastor Steve (00:01):
But maybe we need to pull down our mental, spiritual, and physical structures that have become obstacles to reaching God’s broken, but favored possession – us. You and I, this is the time to invest in people.
Hannah Hunter (00:16):
Hey, beautiful people. Welcome back to Sundays with the gathering. I’m Hannah Hunter, the director for digital reach here at the gathering place in Palm beach gardens. Thanks for joining us this week. And we’re blessed to have pastor Steve of nativity Lutheran church and Palm beach gardens. Bring the message
Pastor Steve (00:33):
Every once in a while. So I’m gonna preface this, preface my sermon by saying this every once in a while. Um, are you familiar with lectionary lectionary texts? There’s kind of, there’s a, there’s a group of texts that rotate, you know, and sometimes pastors follow ’em sometimes they, they don’t. Um, but they’re assigned if you will. And sometimes one just kind of lands in your lap that you’re like, that’s a good one and it’s pertinent. And, um, I’m gonna get to that. So this is lectionary text that that came about at the right time, I believe for, for us as people, um, in, in our day and age and, and, and personally, but personally, because it’s it’s, um, you, you you’ll get it when I get into it, but here’s, here’s the word of the Lord, Luke 12, parable of the rich fool, someone in the crowd said to Jesus teacher tell my brother to divide the family, inheritance with me.
Pastor Steve (01:26):
But Jesus said to him friend who sent me to be a judge or arbitrator over you. And then he said to them, take care, be on your guard against all kinds of greed for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. Then he told them a parable, the land of a rich man produced abundantly, and he thought to himself, what should I do for, I have no place to store my crops. Then he said this, I will do this. I will pull down my barns and build larger ones. And there I will store all my grain in my goods. And I will say to myself, say, say to my soul soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years, relax, eat, drink, be Merry. But God said to him, you fool this very night. Your life is being demanded of you and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?
Pastor Steve (02:20):
So it is with those historic treasures for themselves, but are not rich toward God, the gospel of our Lord. So like I said, this was a kind of a, a, a, uh, a text that kind of spoke to me at a, you know, it, God has a way this past Friday I was involved in an inheritance conversation. Yeah. Right. Something that we are all familiar with, to some extent, at some point or another, we have this kind of conversation, inheritance conversations and, and who gets what and how it gets divided up and all that good stuff you see about a year ago. My dad passed away actually July 19th was a year ago. And there were some, some parts of his, of the estate that had actually been, that had been settled and put together and, and all, all ducks lined up and financials and power of attorneys and all this stuff had been taken care of.
Pastor Steve (03:17):
And then, but there was one silly account that didn’t have a beneficiary. So we had to wait a whole entire year in order to address it. Okay. So, and so my brother, my sister and I, um, got together and I should say that this is all over in St. Petersburg on the other coast. Cause that’s where I’m originally from is from St. Pete. So I drove over there four hour drive on Friday at two o’clock to come together, to have a conversation about, about this piddly little account and to sign papers and to have a conversation about the care of my mom who is now 80, almost 80, I should say. And what that looks like. So this is a conversation that we, we, we, we’re all involved in at some point in time, right? That we, we, at some point in time, whether it’s are you sitting here or it’s your parents, but it’s something we all deal with cuz it’s it’s life.
Pastor Steve (04:16):
Before I go a little bit further, I kinda wanna give you a little bit of context about my, about my mom, the person that was that we, the conversation was surrounding. My mom was born in 1942 and she was, um, she was born out of wedlock. Woo. Right in 1942. And her, her mother gave her up, um, to the foster care system. And my mom lived in the foster care system for like, like eight years. And it wasn’t until her, her grandparents from her on her mother’s side, um, said enough of this. And they took her in and then eventually she found her way to, to be in her mother’s care. And they moved to Florida because everybody in was in, in Wisconsin, moved to Western Florida in the 1950s, just like everybody in New York moved to south Florida in the 1950s.
Pastor Steve (05:11):
And, and now, and now, yes, yes. Let’s clarify that. And now even more so now. Right. So, so my mom has always had this and, and I can, and chances are, you’re never gonna meet my mom and I’m gonna consider you all family and family does what they talk about family. Right? Yeah. So I think it’s safe to share some of these, these, these details with you and, and I’m sharing with you cause I’m kind of processing it out, processing it out loud with you. But so my mom is a broken person. Okay. We’re all broken. And my mom has had, has not been a very trust, trusting person. And she’s kind of been a, um, if you wanna say the gosh at times, the black sheep of the family, and it hurts me to say these things, but it’s, it hasn’t always been easy to relate to my mom.
Pastor Steve (06:00):
So there’s been a lot of tension between my mom and my dad. And, uh, are you familiar with that kind of stuff? Yeah. Right. Never. Okay. Never heard of it. Yeah. <laugh> it’s family. So there we are sitting at the, at a, at a, you know, one of ’em long lawyer tables, my brother, my sister, the lawyer, my mom and me, and we’re talking about the, you know, the, the next, the next steps of her care and, and the, the weirdness of talking about her, her death, which isn’t like impending, but you know, it’s gonna happen one day and what to do about the house and selling the house and should we sell the house? And, and you can, you can only have so much money in your checking account. And if it’s, if it, you know, if you can spend it down, but you gotta spend it down a certain way so that you can get government government help with Medicaid, you know, and it it’s a, it’s a, it’s ridiculous is what it is.
Pastor Steve (06:49):
It’s a lot of work. Yeah. Right. So we’re sitting there and it’s, and we’re talking or going around it and you know, you can do this and we can do that and we can sell the house and, and, and all of, you know, and all this, all this conversation and, and my, my sister starts tearing up and my mom starts tearing up. And then my brother starts tearing up and then I start tearing up and it’s just, it’s, it’s just not, it’s just, it’s sad stuff. Right. But it’s life, it’s life because we’re talking about what we’re gonna do with you. Right. We’re gonna, we’re gonna mom. If, if you can’t take care of yourself, if you can’t have a good quality of life, cuz we can’t see you live like this, then we’re gonna, we need to do something with you. We need to help you cuz we’re here to help you. And we gave us the, the power to help you. So let us help you.
Pastor Steve (07:40):
She wasn’t combative. She listened. And she did a lot of listening, um, for somebody that does a lot of talking, she listened. But the conclusion that we came up with is that it makes best financial and quality of living sense for her to remain in the family house as long as she possibly can. And so that’s where we’re at with it, 11 out of 39 of Jesus parables. He talks about money, wealth and possessions and the heart of all these parables is Jesus driving home, the importance of not letting money, wealth and possessions, negatively affecting relationships.
Pastor Steve (08:27):
So full disclosure. Okay. I live over here, my brother and sister live over there and they do the bulk of the care, the, the hands on the doing the laundry, the, the grocery shopping, all that good stuff. They have the checking account and all that and all that, all that stuff. Right. And I’m over here and I try to make it over there as often as I can, but you know what, it’s it, it’s hard to be here and not be there and then not feel like I’m, how do I say this? An an, uh, an an equal part to the <laugh> the, the, uh, the whole, the whole pie. Yeah. Right. So I have this, this, this inborn sense of insecurity about, you know, I’m, I’m, I’m not doing my part. I’m not, oh, it’s Ugh. And some of that has to deal with money, you know, and it’s, and I’m, and I’m just, just human.
Pastor Steve (09:33):
And today’s scripture. Jesus gives a lesson on how the desire to accumulate wealth can affect our relationships with God. So somebody says to Jesus teacher, tell me, or tell my brother, I should say, tell my brother to divide the family. Inheritance with me. Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family, inheritance with me. So a little bit of context around family inheritance in first century, um, Israel, according to Jewish law, the oldest son receives two thirds, two thirds of what is to be inherited. That means that the good for you. Two thirds. <laugh> two thirds. Yeah. So am I two, two thirds with the remaining third going to the remaining family members. Now I should clarify that to the remaining males. Sorry, ladies. It is definitely not 2022 in the us of a isn’t it still isn’t okay.
Pastor Steve (10:35):
That’s another sermon. Yes. So thus, this is likely, this is likely a younger brother to the older, to the older brother. Who’s asking this question. If we kind of extrapolate the details, it’s a younger brother. That’s that’s, that’s asking Jesus about this inheritance. And he’s a, he’s a, he’s a, he’s now a, a, a landowner he’s he’s owns a third, a third of property, but he’s not happy cuz he wants, he wants more. He wants more. So he asks Jesus to make a ruling because he does recognize Jesus as being an authority because Jesus understood as a rabbi, he’s been teaching and he believes that Jesus can attest to Jewish law, but Jesus doesn’t take the bait. Jesus instead quickly says no, because he knows the younger brother already knows the law.
Pastor Steve (11:32):
This guy already knows the law. And by virtue of him being a farmer and a landowner, he is already considered wealthy. Even though it’s just a third of whatever that estate was yet here he is wanting more at the expense of his brother, just like that. Jesus launches into a lesson on greed, take care. He says, be on guard against all kinds of greed for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. The farmer’s problem isn’t that he’s had a great harvest or that he’s rich or that he wants to plan for the future. The farmer’s problem is that his good fortune has curved his vision inward upon himself so that everything he sees and starts and ends with is him. Listen again to his little dialogue in the middle, not with a, a spouse or a friend or a parent, but with himself, he says this, I will do this.
Pastor Steve (12:41):
I will pull down my barns and build larger ones. And there I will store all migraine and my goods. And I will say to my soul, this is kind, this is how selfish it is. It’s a, it’s a, a self, a conversation with himself within a conversation about with himself soul soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years, relax, eat, drink, and be Merry an entirely. Me, myself and I conversation. And it is all about himself. It’s void of everything, but him and that is why Jesus calls him a fool. He has fallen prey to the notion that life and particularly the good life consists of possessions, precisely the thing that Jesus warns about.
Pastor Steve (13:31):
So then what then does the good life consists of the good life consists of everything that Jesus Christ preaches about across all the gospels? And it doesn’t take too much to see that it’s relationships, relationships, relationships with each other and with God is what Jesus is always driving home. And that these relationships, they don’t exist in vacuums in silos our relationships and, and are are connected. They can’t be separated. And that’s why Jesus tells stories that invite us to expand our understanding of being a neighbor and call us to care for the poor to love enemies and doing good for those in need as being of the utmost importance, not once does Jesus lift, setting up a retirement account or securing a higher paying job as part of seeking the kingdom of God? Hmm. Which doesn’t mean those things are doesn’t mean they’re bad. Doesn’t mean they’re bad. Seriously does money can do a lot of wonderful things. We know that it can provide for our family. It can be given to others in need. It can be used to create jobs and promote general whale welfare. And if it can make possible a more comfortable life, and yes, I’m running for governor
Pastor Steve (14:55):
Sounds like a speech about our economy, right? Supply and demand and spending of money, money. Can’t produce the kind of full and abundant life that each of us seeks and that Jesus promises. So it’s not about the money. It’s about our attitude towards the money and those around us. So now let’s turn to us
Pastor Steve (15:28):
Cuz truth, be told. We know, and we believe we know and we believe what Jesus says is true. Amen. Amen. Okay. We know that money can’t buy happiness. But the thing is, is even though we know this, we all too often all do often struggle to live the ways that Jesus has laid out before us, because it is so easily easy to be seduced and drawn in by the same message that captured the soul of that young farmer in Jesus parable. We just heard which isn’t really all that surprising. Cause if you watch TV and you browse the internet, if you spend any significant amount of time on social media, you can see that we’re not just exposed, but actually just inundated with message. The, the message that the farmer has bought into cuz the majority of, of advertisements on all farms and media is designed to exploit are inborn sense of insecurity. And that’s the kind of inadequacy marketing that engages in a deceptive kind of a two step dance because first it, I, it identifies and exaggerates something that we are insecure about. Right? We have wrinkles on our face. We have lines around our eyes. Our eyelashes aren’t too are too
Pastor Steve (16:56):
Are too short. I don’t have big enough biceps. My love handles are too big. I got a flat butt.
Speaker 3 (17:03):
Pastor Steve (17:05):
Be glad <laugh> big dairy airs are in though. Okay. For now, for now, for now. Right? Until somebody says they’re not right. That’s the point? It’s kinda like the supply and demand thought. If they say it, then we want it. Or maybe it’s mouthwash <laugh> or, or, or, you know, because our, we have bad breath or, or, um, it’s a car, you know, you just driving your, your, your, your focus. Isn’t good enough. You have to have a Genesis or,
Pastor Steve (17:46):
And then having these things, these, this, these, these offers to soothe the, and give to the things that we feel like we need, that these things will remedy our concern and make us feel like we have. And we’re, and we’re, we’re acceptable again. And that we have status. It’s a little wonder then that we have fallen prey to this message cuz materialism or consumerism or consumption or ALU or whatever else we might want to call. It has one distinct advantage over the abundant life that Jesus lifts up. And that’s because it’s immediately tangible relationships, community purpose, the kind of things that Jesus invites us to embrace and strive for are much harder to lay our hands on because we know what a good relationships feel like feels like, but it’s hard to point to or produce on a moment’s notice. And we know that wonderful feeling of being accepted into a community, but it’s not like you can run out to Walmart and buy community.
Pastor Steve (18:58):
And so at times we substitute material goods for in material ones because they’re right there in front of us. And we got a whole culture telling us that this, that this is the best there is relationships. Take time, relationships take time. And when they’re hurt and they’re broken, they can back to like my mom or any of those other broken relationships in our lives. They take ti takes time for things to be, to be healed. Relationships can take time and sometimes demand what would seem a large amount of effort. And the thing about relationships is when we get burned or when we get trampled on or just plain hurt, however, through healthy relationships, especially those that are grounded in the love of God, we inevitably come closer to one another and then closer to God to come closer to our creator, we must get closer to our neighbor to one another in the context, in the context of managing our wealth and possessions and getting closer to God, might we ask ourselves what it looks like for us to want more for others? So I’ll say that again, in the context of managing our relationship with wealth and possessions and getting closer to God, might we ask ourselves what it looks like for us, for you and I to want more for who have needs?
Pastor Steve (20:51):
So what if instead of cherishing possessions and wealth, we cherished experience cherished experience. Think about the video that we just watched a few moments ago and the, in the, in the experience of, of what the experience could be in serving a community like that, or walking alongside that young, that young lady, when she was a child administering to her, that’s an investment. I think about people who these days are, are seeking to shed things in their, in their lives and, and like RV, you know, living out of your RV or living in your van, just getting rid of all the possessions. And it’s just you, yourself, your dog and your significant other in a van and you’re traveling the world and you’ve let go of kind of worldly, trappings, you ready? Are you ready?
Speaker 3 (21:42):
Pastor Steve (21:46):
And what if we permitted the holy spirit to manage us away from stuff and towards one another, we allowed the holy spirit to manage us away from stuff and towards one another, Steve, stop scrolling Amazon. You don’t need another circular saw get out of the power tool aisle in home Depot. Steve
Pastor Steve (22:15):
Might this be the opportune time for us, the church to invest in humanity in God’s most prized creations might this day and age be the opportune time to be rich toward God, by introducing and welcoming people into a community that values them for who they are, not who they were in the brokenness of the past, but of who they are now. And the idea of that, you’re gonna be present with them, walking with them, the, the hurt, the disadvantage, the marginalized, the unaccepted, but we’re gonna walk with them in their journey and get closer to closer to Christ as we go along, because this is a time of this is we are living in a time of, of the self, the need of the self, but might this be the time to, to push back against us? Might this be the opportune time to pull down? Not unlike that, that farmer who said, I’m gonna pull down my barns and make bigger ones, but maybe we need to pull down our mental, spiritual, and physical structures that have become obstacles to reaching God’s broken, but favored possession us. You and I God’s might this be the time. This is the time to invest in people.
Pastor Steve (23:58):
So after meeting with the lawyer, I was gonna come back to that. After meeting with the lawyer, I took my mom back to her house, the house I grew up in, it’s a two bedroom, one, one bath house, small like 900 square feet. And five of us lived in it at one point in time. And I’m sitting there talking with my mom. We visited for a little while before I had to get back on the road to come back, come back home four hour drive. And I’m sitting there in the house like, like I always do. And we’re having a conversation and we’re in the front living room. Like there’s another living room, the living room. There’s a living room. There’s a Florida room and two bathrooms. And I’m sitting there and I’m looking at all the things in her, in the house. She liked to collect things. She loves her things. She has tons of things.
Speaker 3 (24:51):
Pastor Steve (24:52):
Corn hus dolls, familiar with corn. Hus dolls. Yeah. Yeah. You got something. Okay. Dozens of corn, hus dolls, black memorabilia dolls, Indian dolls, just all kinds of paintings and pictures and knacks and Paddy, wax and
Speaker 3 (25:11):
Pastor Steve (25:11):
She used to have dogs. They both passed away recently, antique, just antique tools, antique dollhouse, a grandfather clock that she bought when they, when we were in, when we lived in Germany, abroad a tur, the Turkish stove, when they were stationed in Turkey, my dad was in the service and she didn’t say at this last time, but times I’ve been there before. And I, and I, you know, I’ve looked at these things cuz there, there, there, there, some of ’em are in the same places they were when I was a kid. And I’d say, you know, I’d make a comment about, about, you know, the, the big old wagon wheel that’s on the wall. It’s just a big old wagon wheel, just a wagon wheel. I’d like to have that someday. You know what she would say, but your name on a sticker and put it on the bottom side of it. And you can have it when I die.
Speaker 3 (25:58):
Pastor Steve (26:01):
Not one of us have done that.
Speaker 3 (26:03):
Pastor Steve (26:04):
And if we did, I would just probably put my sticker over my brother’s sticker. <laugh> right. Not one of us, none of us have done, but my mom, she loves her stuff, loves her stuff. But I tell you there’s been a change over the last year or so while visiting with her, I, I told her sitting here that day, this was Friday afternoon. I’m sitting there and I’m talking to her and I, and, and there’s a pause in the conversation. And I, I, I, she doesn’t get outta the house a lot she’s she doesn’t drive anymore. And I said to her, I said, mom, how would you like to go? I was telling her about her trip to North Carolina. That’s what I was doing, talking about the trip to North Carolina, with the youth. And I was showing pictures on my phone and said, mom, I said, how would you like to go to the mountains of North Carolina sometime? And without she didn’t hesitate, she said, yes. Okay. Wouldn’t have dared said that a year and a half, two years ago, because she’s always kind of lived in this, me, myself and I am against the world. Kind of a me against the world. I’m a victim kind of mentality. Narrow closed kind of world. Always no first. Yes. A distant, distant, second angry at God. Faith. Not,
Pastor Steve (27:27):
Not her, not her thing. Right, but in that last, but in this last year, she’s kind of opened up and I don’t know if it had to do with my dad passing away, but she’s really become to rely on us and they didn’t live together. They’ve been separated for you ready, 40 years. That’s story
Pastor Steve (27:49):
In the last year she’s opened up and she’s relied on us. She’s needed us. And she’s let go of let go of some things, let go of some hurt. She’s made herself more emotionally available and, and vulnerable by being available. Right? And I just say, thanks be to God for the work of the holy spirit on all, on all of us on all parties involved. But God, I’m gonna say this for what I really, for what I, for what it is, brothers and sisters in Christ, we must invest in one another, invest in our families, invest in our friends, our foes, our foes, and what Jesus calls our neighbor and the Lord will have us all will have us inherit. The kingdom inherit that kingdom when the time comes, this is not about just us gathered here. What we do here on Sunday mornings is not about us cuz because it’s 100% about God, because this is the place where we come to get nourished and fed.
Pastor Steve (28:59):
It is about you as well. But it is about us. Us gather together to hear the word, to hear the word and to act on the word and to be sent, to be sent into the world, to make relationships above and beyond all things, to make relationships and point people to Christ and that story and that investment is absolutely 100% worth more than the power ball on, on, on whatever day that was drawn. It’s worth more than that. It’s 100% and you know the price tag, it’s what priceless, absolutely priceless. So let’s go forward and, and invest, invest in God’s people and not let the trappings of this world trap us or confine us or define us. Amen.
Hannah Hunter (29:55):
Hey, beautiful people. This is Hannah Hunter. I’m the director of digital reach here at the gathering place in Palm beach gardens. Thank you for joining us this week. We love getting to share our journey in Christ and community with you. And if you’re in the Palm beach area, we would love to get to connect with you in person at our Sunday worship service at 11:15, for more information about our community and faith. Check out our website @ thegatheringplacefl.org. Thanks for listening.