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September 21, 2007
Today's eMo is not the usual double set of meditations on texts that will be heard in many churches this Sunday. It is only one, the usual sermon preparation eMo. I got behind on time, and could only do one. So sorry. Nonetheless, as with all the eMos, preachers and teachers are welcome to borrow, with the usual attribution, No further permission is necessary.

No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
Luke 16:12-13

I understand that many lottery winners end up much worse off than they were before they hit the jackpot. Their families fall apart, their friendships do, too. They fall prey to whatever addictive excess finds them first. Sometimes they end up with no money at all. It all sounds dreadful enough that I don't play; one more thing I can cross off the list of terrible things that might befall me: winning $27 million.

When you're poor, it feels like everything would be good if you just had money. So many things are so hard, things that are easy for people with money: you don't have a car so you take a bus, and getting to and from work takes you two hours each way. You don't have a car so you can't go to a supermarket; you buy not-very-good food for too much money at a neighborhood grocery. You can't get your teeth fixed, and you always cover your smile with your hand. You can't get orthotics in your shoes, so your feet always hurt. You can't save. You have to refuse your children every time they want something and you hate doing it. You are always exhausted, and you never take a vacation. Day after day, you carry all these things. Some minister on the radio tells you that money doesn't buy happiness, and you want to slap him. Maybe not, you say, but it buys plenty of other things.

Yup. It's a tool, money. It buys things we need in life, and the lack of it is terribly painful. But it can't take the place of life. Husbanding it doesn't make a good life's work. When money becomes anything beyond a tool, it grows monstrous, a sorcerer's apprentice that leads a person to places he probably wouldn't want to go if he were to stop and think about it.

The main reason for having money is to give it away. After there is enough to get your teeth fixed and the proper shoes, the main thing about money is that it can be a powerful agent in the service of love. You can ease people's pain with it -- not all of their pain, but some. You can save people's lives with it. You can use it to make the world more beautiful and more safe. You can learn the peculiar pleasure of saying No to yourself in order to say Yes to someone else's need, and you wonder why you never realized before how much fun that is.

Pentecost 17, Proper 20, Year C

Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 or Amos 8:4-7 * Ps 79:1-9 or 113 * I Timothy 2:1-7 * Luke 16:1-13
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