The sword rages

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

Proper 13C (RCL)

Hosea 11:1-11

Psalm 117:1-9, 43

Colossians3:1-11

Luke 12:13-21

We have lived through another horrible week in this country; two mass killings in less than 24 hours, in cities hundreds of miles apart. Nearly 30 dead. Hatred and racism finally show their ugly faces unmasked. In the reading from Hosea, we hear God’s anguished cry that Israel has forsaken the divine parental love – like an infant God had lifted us to God’s cheek. But we have worshiped false gods — the gods of nationalism, power, violence, division — and so the sword rages in our cities. God is heartbroken, and yet will not abandon us.

In the Gospel reading, Jesus tells the parable of the man whose fields produced abundance. He built bigger barns to store his grain. The parable reminds us of Pharaoh, who with the advice of Joseph, stored the surplus of seven good years, and then bought the people into slavery. In the wilderness, God would not let the people gather manna for more than a single day, to guard against the sin of hoarding.

When we build more storage units than we know what to do with, and guard all that stuff with security systems, we have forgotten whose that stuff will be when we die (and therefore whose it is now). We have begun to worship the god of stuff; and that idolatry extends itself to division (keep your hands off of my stack), power, violence, and nationalism. And so the sword rages in our cities.

What would it look like to turn back to God and be lifted like an infant to the divine cheek? Jesus said that only those who accept it as a child can enter the kingdom. A child can’t fool him or herself for long with the illusion of independence. We need to go back to kindergarten again and learn to share.

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