Friday, August 30, 2013

Reflections on Healing in the New Testament:

What is healing?  Why do we do a “healing” liturgy on the 5th Sunday of the month?  Are we offering “cure?”  No, God has given us the gift of medical science to help us find cures. So then what is the “healing” that our liturgy offers us from God through Christ? It is easy to mix up those two words – healing and cure.  Our culture tends to under of “healing” as “cure,” and “cure” as “healing.”  Cure and healing are interchangeable in our society.  We go to the doctor for a cure in hopes that we will be healed of whatever ails us.  We come to church and experience a liturgy of healing in hopes that this will aid in providing a cure.  But are they the same thing?  No, in the Bible they are not the same thing at all.  They may be related, but they are two separate things.  Here then is a statement that sums up the biblical view of healing and cure: First, One can be cured without experiencing healing and 2nd, One can be healed without being cured!
Let’s start with the 2nd part of this statement – One can be healed without being cured!  Our society has a very complicated view of sickness and death.  And certainly we could talk a lot about the things that lead to illness in our society: stress, diet, alcohol, how we push ourselves to go, go, go and so on.  In our western culture in particular we tend to see death and illness as invaders from the outside.  They are, we believe, the opposite of life and so we fight against them with all our strength.  And surely we should do whatever we can to live healthy and productive lives which means adopting a life style that keeps sickness and death at bay as long as possible.  But the fact of the matter is this: for the bible all of life is all oneall of life is a whole.  Death is not an outside invader, death is not the opposite of life – death is a part of life.  The same with illness, illness is a part of life. And in some ways it can be a blessing.  For illness can cause us to rethink our priorities, it can force us to slow our pace of life down, to resolve stress issues to reconsider our priorities and so forth.  Being sick is a part of life.  And being sick may be the result of a variety of things some of which might not even be physical, but may have to do with our lifestyles or spiritual and/or psychological issues.  Surely we should use the gift of medicine to seek after cure for our physical illnesses, but what about these other issues that led to the illness in the first place?  This is where healing comes in – we need not only to be cured, but we need to seek healing and healing involves more that a specific physical illness.
Look at St. Paul, for example:  Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)   Many scholars believe that Paul contracted a form of Malaria in Tarsus when he was a boy.  He then continued to suffer with problems relating to this for the rest of his life.  As we can tell from this passage, he prayed fervently for cure but did not receive it.  But still, Paul experienced a healing that went beyond his physical ailments and which enabled him to continue serving and to rely on and celebrate the grace of God through Christ.
Accepting the gift of grace!  Accepting that, like Paul, the grace of God, through Christ, IS sufficient for us!  This is what we are about in our liturgy of healing.  We celebrate the grace of God, which we experience through Christ the healer and through the bread and wine of Communion with our Lord.  During this liturgy we will turn over to God our myriad issues – our illnesses of all kinds, our stresses and concerns and ask God to grant us grace so that we can experience healing and wholeness.  We may also ask for cure and that is appropriate, but we look beyond cure to the healing and wholeness that is offered to us in Christ. 
And to consider this gift of wholeness let us turn back to the Gospel of Luke – what are some of the characteristics of healing in the New Testament – what is offered to us by Christ the healer? What is God offering to us today?
Let’s look at 4 healing stories in Luke –
1. Luke 5:17ff – Forgiveness - Jesus heals the paralytic – Your sins are forgiven you.
2. Luke 7:1ff – Faith - Jesus heals the Centurion’s servant – Not even in Israel have I found such faith. 
3. Luke 17:11-19 – Thanksgiving and Praise - Jesus heals 10 lepers, only one returns to give praise to God – Were not 10 made clean?  But the other nine, where are they… Your faith has made you well.
4. Luke 14:1-14 – Eucharist - Jesus heals the man with dropsy while at a banquet – When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.

What wholeness and healing does Jesus offer to us today?  These passages from Luke are only a small sampling of scripture texts, but there are a couple important patterns that emerge.  Notice that curing occurs, but is almost an afterthought in many of these stories.  In the Luke 5 story Jesus offers the healing of forgiveness.  In Luke 7 Jesus lifts up faith.  Now this is one that is very misunderstood.  This does not mean that curing will not come to you unless you believe hard enough (as if that is something we can actually accomplish anyway!).  In both this story and in the Luke 17 story faith is defined as an activity – an activity to confidence and reliance and trust.  It is like Jesus is simply confirming that the trust and action that is demonstrated is providing healing and this healing is also leading to cure.  And in Luke 17 we have a twist because there are 10 lepers cured but only one was healed!  
Finally, healing comes at table.  Over and over again in the Gospel of Luke Jesus is eating at table and his presence at a banquet is what promotes healing.  We see this in the passage with the man with dropsy, with the woman who anoints his feet, with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.  In every case Jesus provides healing and wholeness and it comes from joining Christ at the Banquet.  The gift of Communion is a healing meal and a meal that is offered to you today.
So we will invite you to come forward, to receive the oil of anointing, to hear the words of promise, to receive bread and wine.  Christ offers to you healing and wholeness.  Come and receive.
A word about annointing with oil:

The annointing with oil is an old practice.  In the Old Testament kings and priests were annointed with oil (and this meant that they dumped the whole bottle on their heads - running down the beard into the collar this is referenced in Psalm 133 and see also Leviticus 8:12).  Now priests were important in OT rituals because they mediated God's presence.  In the New Testament, because of Christ, we no longer need a priest to mediate God's presence rather we understand that God has called all of us to be priests.  This is why we are annointed with oil at Baptism: it is a sign that God is present with us no matter what and the sign of the cross simply identifies that we now belong to Christ and live under the cross.  We annoint the sick to reinforce that we belong to Christ and through Christ God is present with us no matter what - including during the times when we are most needful, frightened, ill and so forth.  During these times in particular we need to be reminded that the cross means God is with us - the oil means God is with us and nothing can ever separate us!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Reflections on the text – Luke 13:10-17

Read the text here: Luke 13:10-17

Bad Guys and Good Guys – Law & Gospel
Every story needs a bad guy.  Right?  Certainly if you watch much TV you know that, with the exception of comedies, most shows have some kind of bad guys – even the reality shows!  We need someone to cheer for and to cheer against.  This past week I attended a conference and the presenter at one point during his presentation started talking about bad guys and good guys using Star Wars characters as examples.  For him Darth Vader = bad; Han Solo = good.  Except, those of us who are at all familiar with the Star Wars films and franchise know that it isn’t that easy.  Darth Vader is actually not all bad, in the end he gives up his life to save his son, Luke (sorry, spoiler alert!); and Han’s popularity (not to mention Harrison Ford’s) was based on the fact that Han was actually a bad boy good guy.  Not so cut and dried at all.  Nevertheless, we are often drawn to stories with a clear cut bad guy vs. good guy.
This is true when we approach the stories in the Gospel.  And in our Gospel for today we think we have a clear cut case.  The leader of the synagogue (probably also a Pharisee) = bad guy; Jesus = good guy.  That is how we tend to read these stories.  But is that really true?  Is the Leader of the Synagogue really a bad guy?  Jesus heals a woman on the Sabbath – Jesus breaks the law!  The Leader of the Synagogue points this out to Jesus.  And for that he is condemned, but, you know what - he is right!  Jesus has broken the law!  "There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the Sabbath day."  This is what the man says to Jesus and he is correct.
It might be helpful to remind ourselves that God gave the Law to Moses while the people of Israel were wandering in the wilderness.  During their slavery in Egypt the people of Israel would have been compelled to work 7 days a week for long, long hours – probably building pyramids in the hot sun.  A day of Sabbath rest would have been welcomed and celebrated as good news.  This gift of the Sabbath was included in the law. And the law itself is a gift.  It is a gift to enable us to live in community with love and respect for others.  As David Lose has written: “The law matters because it helps us order our lives and keep the peace. The law matters because it sets needed boundaries that create room in which we can flourish. The law matters because it encourages us -- sometimes even goads us -- to look beyond ourselves so that we might love and care for our neighbor.”  It is very easy for us to read stories like these from the Gospel as being anti-law, but that is not right.  Jesus is not putting down or eliminating the law.
In this story Jesus is offering a reinterpretation of the law.  Jesus is not throwing it out, but simply expressing through his actions of healing that there are times when the law must yield to grace and love.  If we are so rigid as to allow no grace or exception then the law becomes a burden that will destroy and separate us rather than give us life.  Again to quote David Lose: “(The) Law helps us live our lives better, but grace creates life itself. Law helps order our world, but grace is what holds the world together. Law pushes us to care for each other, but grace restores us to each other when we’ve failed in the law.  Jesus came preaching the kingdom of God, and while the law helps us make sense of and get more out of life in the kingdom of the world, it must always bend to the grace that constitutes the abundant life Jesus proclaims. For above and beyond all the laws ever received or conceived, the absolute law is love: love God and love your neighbor. Or, perhaps, love God by loving your neighbor.”
If we are honest with ourselves we would have to admit that we might be inclined to identify the Ruler of the Synagogue.  For many of us live by any number of absolute rules and too often we can be pretty uncompromising on these rules or laws. These can cover a lot of different areas of our lives – everything from simple matters of life rituals and behavior to the way we choose to relate and welcome others.  What are some of the rules or laws to which you are committed? How does grace impact your way of living these laws or rules.  Is there room for grace and love?  I sometimes hear stories of families where brothers or sisters or parents and children have had a major break over something someone did and years later there is still no openness to forgiveness and reconciliation.  In many cases the offended party may have been “right.”  (Though not always!)  But being “right” – maintaining the rule thus becomes more important than the relationship.  And to be honest there are plenty of times when the situation may not be clear cut at all, when an argument for “right” can be made on both sides.
But ultimately this is besides the point.  Life cannot be about being “right.”  This is the point that Jesus makes to the Leader of the Synagogue.  Healing, grace and love must at times mitigate or reinterpret the law in our lives. Ultimately grace is not only a theological point for us to ponder, but it is to be a way of life, a way of living in the world, a way of relating to others. 
So here are some questions to ponder as you consider this Gospel text from Luke:  What are ways that you can integrate grace into your way of being and relating to others?  What are the points of the rules or laws in your life that need to be reinterpreted by grace?  What is the place of forgiveness in your life?  Who needs to be forgiven?  Who or what needs to be healed by grace in your life?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Reflections on the Epistle - Hebrews 11:29-12:2

Read the text here: Hebrews 11:29-2:2
No One Is Alone
“… since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…”  Wow!  Think about it.  We are surrounded; we are supported; we are being cheered on; we are being inspired - by so great a cloud of witnesses! This statement, which appears near the end of this epistle to the Hebrews, is, for me, one of the most strengthening and encouraging lines in scripture.  A few lines later the writer uses another image – the image of a runner running a race.  When you combine these two images what the preacher is saying is this: we running the race of life, which includes all the dimensions of life including our discipleship.  This race is at times a “rat race;” at times the race leads us into the some dark places and experiences; sometimes we stumble and fall and trip over obstacles; sometimes the climb up the mountains can be really hard; but at other times it is like running downhill.  The race of life contains all of that.  And there in the stands, cheering us on, is the cloud of witnesses.  Saints of every time and every age – from the Patriarchs and prophets, to the Disciples, to St. Francis, to Mother Theresa, to family and friends who have gone to take their place in the heavenly stands.  They are there surrounding us with their love, and encouragement and strength. 
A couple words about the letter to the Hebrews: this epistle is very different than many of the other letters we find in the New Testament.  Most of the letters were either written by or attributed to St. Paul and Paul has a very specific formula that he uses in all his letters.  The few times he alters this formula it is for a very specific reason (for example – skipping the opening thanksgiving so he can get right into lambasting the Galatians).  The letter form is completely missing from Hebrews, which has led many scholars to conclude that it is actually not a letter at all.  Rather it is a sermon, and it appears to follow the structure of an early sermon.  Next, who wrote it?  It was not Paul, there is no question about that for there is nothing in this book that is Pauline in any way.  So, then the author is unknown.  Some have suggested that the sermon takes a very pastoral tone which has led some to suggest that Hebrews is a sermon to a faithful yet struggling and dispirited community of believers and that it is written by their Pastor (who, by the way, in the very early church could have been a woman!)  When was it written?  Probably in the late 80’s, which is just about the same time the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were being penned.  Finally, given the name of the book one might assume that this sermon was addressed to Christian believers of Hebrew background.  But yet, the sermon is written in elegant and complex Greek and uses some Greek imagery, which is woven into the sermon along with looking back to early Jewish history – especially the 1st Temple period.  This has led scholars to conclude that this sermon was for Greek speaking Christians, some of whom might have had a Jewish background, but many of whom probably did not.  The point then is to help these new Christians to see how Christ emerges from and is a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and expectations, and to provide guidance for living as a Christian in their current lives.
In the section that we have been looking at in the last couple weeks (chapter 11 to 12) the preacher is entering into the final stretch of his sermon.  And so he or she is drawing out the conclusions of what has been presented beforehand: Hold fast to your faith, don’t become discouraged, don’t be afraid, recognize that you are not alone!  And in the midst of this life, this race, who stands with us?  Well, all of the Saints from the beginning of God’s salvation history up to and including Saints whom we have known and loved and lost.  These early Saints include Abraham and Sarah and the Patriarchs, Rahab, Melchizadek, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Solomon, the prophets and others, many of whom were martyrs, many of whom wandered the deserts and lived in holes and caves!  These Saints are among the cloud of witnesses!  And what is striking about this preacher’s list is that this is an interesting collection of faithful losers and misfits.  Abraham had some serious trust issues; Jacob was a liar and a cheater, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery due to their jealousy; Rahab (the only woman on the list) was a Canaanite temple prostitute; Melchizadek was a Canaanite priest, Samson could not control his lusts or his violent streak; Barak and Gideon were violent men; Jephthah sacrificed his daughter and David and Solomon – well, their failings take up the whole of five Old Testament books.  The point is – these Saints are far from perfect.  They are flawed, they made huge mistakes, acted selfishly and were at times very unfaithful.  Yet, they continued to “run the race” of faith despite their failings and failures.   And they now stand among the cloud of witnesses.
These are not the perfect holy people we sometimes think of when we use or hear the word Saint.  Rather, they are normal flesh and blood human beings like you and like me.  Men and women who ran the race, even though they stumbled and fell many times during their lives.  Yet they got back up and continued to move forward.  To this list we could add the disciples, Paul, the early Church Fathers (and Mothers) and a list of Saints that numbers in the thousands – and none of these could be said to be without human flaws; none of these ran the race without stumbling many times – just like us! 
So, as you continue in your race, who do you spy in the stands surrounding you, supporting you, lifting you up, giving you strength and inspiration to continue on?  Which of the Saints of times past?  Which Saints of your own time and place, whom you have encountered and who directly reached up and nurtured you?  Parent, teacher, pastor, friend?  They are all there cheering you on from the stands!  They are all there surrounding you in a cloud of witnesses!  No one is alone – You are not alone – We are not alone!  Therefore let us continue to run the race that is set before us!
In the musical "Into the Woods" near the end of the 2nd act, those that remain of the cast sing the song "No One Is Alone."  This song has inspired this sermon so some degree and I think it is reflective of the this text.  Those that know "Into the Woods" know that Act I presents a series of very well-known fairy tales that are interwoven.  By the end of Act I the fairy tales are complete and it looks like everyone is headed for "happily ever after."  But not so, in Act II the cast must face the consequences of their actions in Act II - especially Jack's killing and enraging the wife of the giant who Jack killed when he chopped down the beanstalk.  But he is not the only one.  All the characters and story lines have consequences and difficulties to face.  Act II is thus much, much darker.  But this is what makes this show so outstanding.  It is like life - running the race - there are mountains to climb, difficulties to confront, consequences to face and what makes it possible for us to continue on when we are so overwhelmed is that we are not alone - we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses - which gives us strength and encouragement and guidance.  Think of this text as you listen to the song, performed here by Cinderella, Little Red, the Baker and Jack from the Broadway revival cast. (This is from a promotional performance on the Rosie O'Donnell Show).

Friday, August 9, 2013

Reflections on the Gospel: Luke 12:32-40

Read the text here: Luke 13:32-48
God’s Great Delight
Jesus is on the way towards Jerusalem.  Beginning in chapter 9 immediately following the Transfiguration, Jesus sets his face towards Jerusalem.  But along the way Jesus, accompanied by his 12 disciples and a host of others who come and go as the journey proceeds, spends the time teaching, telling stories (parables) and answering questions.  But throughout all of this a couple themes emerge:  First, the Kingdom of God is come now, in Jesus!  We do not have to wait for the Kingdom to come down the road in some distant time and place.  The Kingdom is NOW!  As you experience Jesus, you experience the Kingdom.  Also, the Kingdom is not something we can earn, or accomplish, or forcibly establish – it is a gift of God’s.  And it is God’s delight and joy to give God’s people this gift. 
So what prevents us from accepting and fully appreciating this incredible gift of God’s?  Well, lots of things: Led by worry about tomorrow we accumulate wealth and possessions and status.  We fret and stress over whether we have enough or not.  And, of course, we don’t, so we worry more and we grasp and we hoard for ourselves, building up treasure on earth.  But in pursuing riches on earth, we make ourselves poor in God.  Last week’s parable of the Rich Fool pointed us in that direction.  This man has become so self-centered and self-focused that his world completely revolves around himself.  Despite his many possessions he is poor in relationship with others and poor in his relationship with God.  So then how do we become rich in God?  As we look back over Jesus’ journey towards Jerusalem we can see the answer to this question: Reach out in love and care to your neighbor (Good Samaritan, chapter 10); Spend time listening to Jesus – in prayer, in God’s word and in Worship (Mary & Martha, chapter 10); Work on giving to God our worry about tomorrow, recognizing that like the lilies of the field and the birds of the air God will provide what we need for life (chapter 11); Work on freeing ourselves from the weight of dependence on our possessions (chapter 12); Dine with Jesus as often as possible through participation with God’s community in the Sacrament of Holy Communion (chapter 14).
Jesus is calling for us to open ourselves to a gift that God is giving to us freely.  These are not ways to earn God’s Kingdom – it is very easy for us to misunderstand this and begin to think that all of this action on our part is required, or else no Kingdom for you!  Not true, all of this action is encouraged in order for us to be able to receive and experience this gift fully! … for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom… says Jesus.  Actually a better way of translating this would be this: … it is the Father’s great delight  or … it is the Father’s delightful decision.  Think extravagance! God is not parceling the Kingdom out to us a little bit at a time, as we make ourselves worthy!  No – God is excited and can hardly wait to give us the whole gift of the whole Kingdom, now, as soon as possible.  When God created the heavens and the earth, God surveyed the work of creation and determined it was TOV – good, fantastic, incredible, awesome!  Now, Jesus tells us that God has come up with a new plan and this plan includes a beautiful, joyous, delightful new idea – and that is giving the Kingdom to God’s beloved children through Jesus.  (This is the literal meaning of the Greek eudokia which is used here: eu = joyous, wonderful, beautiful and dokéo = thought or idea!). 
That is the gift which is held out to you freely – the gift of the Kingdom of God, through Jesus; the gift which is God’s joyous, wonderful, beautiful new incredible, amazing, delightful thought or idea!  Here it is – it is yours!  Nothing can take it away – but lots of things can get in the way of your fully receiving, enjoying and experiencing the gift.  So, beginning with coming to the table to receive and experience eucharist – literally eu = joyous, wonderful, beautiful and charis = grace, steadfast love – let us go forth as citizen’s of God’s Kingdom bringing this gift everywhere we go and to everyone we meet.

 The focus of the lectionary texts for these few weeks are quite clear about how God gives to us the gifts of the Kingdom freely, without condition.  And this is a direct contradiction and condemnation of what has become known as the "prosperity gospel."  The insidiousness and  danger of this very unbiblical doctrine - which is the core of the preaching of Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen - is addressed very well in this article: "Why I Called Out Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen" by Rick Henderson

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Reflections on the Text – Luke 12:13-21

Read the text here: Luke 12:13-21

Rich Towards God
“Money is the root of all evil!”  That is a saying we have all heard over and over again but yet how many of us find ourselves constantly in a state of anxiety and stress over money.  We are always looking for ways to increase our wealth and our possessions.  A few years ago when the housing crisis began and many folks began to default on their mortgages it became apparent that in many of these cases folks had purchased homes that were simply too big and too expensive for them, and they simply could not afford them once the supports fell away.
Our Gospel today is all about money and the accumulation of wealth.  First, it is important to state that the problem, as Luke presents it, it not with money, per se.  It is not the money or the wealth or the possessions themselves that are the root of “all evil” for Luke.  It is, rather, our attitude towards them.  In fact, Luke has a unique view of wealth.  For Luke, wealth is to be seen as a gift from God to be used for the benefit for others in need and in the community.  It becomes a problem when we begin to focus on it to the point where our lives begin to be defined by our possessions and wealth and where we begin to turn inward, shutting out others – including God.
Let’s look at our text a little more closely.  After a series of parables two brothers who are having a dispute over their father’s inheritance interrupt Jesus: “Tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me!”  Here we see that wealth and possessions have divided yet another family and caused conflict and bitterness.  But Jesus declines to arbitrate this dispute.  Instead he launches into one of his best known and most often ignored parable – “The Parable of the Rich Fool.”  The story is of a very successful and wealthy man who is not just a farmer.  This man owns multiple farms and land and this has made him wealthy.  But he also seems to do everything right, from a business standpoint – he has been successful beyond even his own expectations; he sees a need to provide for the future so he plans to replace his small and inadequate storage facilities and finally he looks forward to enjoying the fruits of his success.  Now what is wrong with all of that?  It seems like this businessman is someone to emulate, someone we should admire – but Jesus condemns him harshly in this parable, calling him a fool.  Why?
Any number of commentators have attempted to find a dark cloud around this character – he was rich because he was taking advantage of his tenant farmers; he was rich because he was manipulating the price of grain and so on.  The problem is, the text does not support any of that.  So as much as we want to find some clear reason for Jesus’ negative attitude towards this man, it is not so apparent.  In fact, like most of Jesus’ parables this is the twist, an element of shock.  Those who listen to this parable are probably thinking either – I am like this man or I want to be like this man!  And yes he is a fool and he is condemned.  So let’s look closer at the story to see if we can find some justification for the conclusion Jesus presents. 
Look at the man’s speech: And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’  The bold face text that I have added should be a hint: I – I –  my – I – my… everything is about me, myself and I for this man.  Not only that but by the end of this soliloquy he has turned into himself so much that he has begun to dialog with his own soul!  His interest and his concern for and focus upon acquiring wealth and success and status has turned him so far inwards that he is only able to dialog with himself.  He has lost any connection with others – his family, friends, neighbors, workers, the broader community  and even God!  And not only that but he has also lost connection with his own mortality as well – thus beginning to see himself as invincible.  He doesn’t need God for anything.  This is why this man is a fool – he has lost connection with God and his neighbor.  He is rich in possessions but poor in spirit.
So what does it mean to be rich toward God.  Jesus doesn’t say in the context of this parable but all we need to do is to go back and review the lessons and parables that lead into this passage to get an answer to this important question: “Being rich toward God entails using one’s resources for the benefit of one’s neighbor in need, as the Samaritan did (10:25-37). Being rich toward God includes intentionally listening to Jesus’ words, as Mary did (10:38-42).  Being rich toward God consists of prayerfully trusting that God will provide for the needs of life (11:1-13, 12:22-31).  Being rich toward God involves selling possessions and giving alms as a means of establishing a lasting treasure in heaven (12:32-34).”
“The man in the parable and people who emulate his pattern of life are fools for leading isolated, self-absorbed lives, because everything they have given themselves ends in death.  Life is not had by the possessions one has.  Life and possessions are a gift of God to be used to advance God’s agenda of care and compassion, precisely for those who lack resources to provide for themselves.”
So what about you?  Are you rich toward God or are you in danger of being smothered by your money, concern about money and possessions?  What can you do to begin to turn towards God and begin to accumulate treasure in heaven?