Sermon Synopsis Luke 12:13-21

In the Gospel story Jesus warns about the dangers of greed. He tells about a man whose land produced abundantly…

As a pastor, I was once told about a successful businessman who owned a large amount of property. According to the story, he received a mysterious phone call after which he instructed his employee to drive a tractor to a specific point of his property and mow an airstrip. He placed a windsock on the strip and had a pilot land a plane. In a matter of days a surveyor came through and determined that his neighbor’s property was worth less than his property because of his “airstrip.” When the property was purchased by the utility company for the lines that would cross the land he received much more money than his less wealthy (and less “connected”) neighbors. He was quite proud of his ingenuity and felt he deserved the extra money because of his “wise” actions. I wonder if he ever considered that the mysterious phone call would have never occurred if he had not been wealthy enough to make generous political contributions…

Some years ago a Grandmother shared with me her excitement and pride about her grandchildren being accepted into Law School and Medical School. She truly believed that they were the most gifted and best qualified students that had applied. It never dawned on her that those Admissions Committees might have passed over better qualified students (academically) whose families would not be able to leave a large bequest to the institution…

I have heard of people buying a boat slip for many thousands of dollars and then paying an annual fee equal to what it would cost to rent a similar slip. Their purpose for purchasing the slip was to keep the “riff-raff” away. I would observe that the “riff-raff” owned similar sized boats but may not have had the ability to leverage their monies from one line item to another. These people were obviously beneath them… and heaven forbid one of their children might fall in love with one of those and dilute the line.

In his parable, Jesus lifts up two interesting points…

In the first (often overlooked), the rich man is laying awake at night worrying about what to do with his abundant crop. In the second, Jesus points out the man’s imminent death.

Last week I wrote about attending a lecture on non-profit giving. I was interested to learn that the act of giving to another (a friend, a stranger, an institution, etc.) causes the release of the brain chemical dopamine which creates a feeling of pleasure. I suspect that that there is a similar effect (the pleasure of ego) imagining that one is somehow superior to one’s neighbor because of one’s wealth.

I like to think that God created us in such a way that the chemical released by charity is healthier in the long run…

Warmly,

Rev Dan