Last year we had a rewire in our house as we had problems with the electrics. This was worse than I had expected it to be especially as we were living in the house amongst the mess, noise and dust. We stayed in the extension (which didn’t need rewiring ) with some furniture and all the necessary things we needed to get by for a few weeks. The whole house was disrupted, and we packed away as much as we could into boxes and stored them in the living room and garage.
Whilst packing up our belongings I realised there were things that we had not used for a long time and didn’t really need, such as glasses and crockery and so I took these to the charity shop. Some things were boxed up in the garage and amazingly we managed without them. We had to wait for the plasterer and then the decorating had to be done and all these things that we needed so badly were still packed up in boxes! It was actually quite nice not having so much clutter and managing on the basics. We decided to try not to reinstate all the stuff when the rooms are back to normal.
Why do we acquire so much stuff? Some things are given to us as presents so have sentimental value and some things are precious to us because they belonged to someone we love. Sometimes we just want things that we like- I’ve got a glass cabinet full of those. We cling onto the past and our possessions for a number of reasons. Whilst I was stuck in the extension, I decided to sort out some paperwork that I had been keeping, just in case, and got rid of all my old payslips going back to the very first one from 1975. I asked myself why I have kept these all these years and yet I found it very difficult to throw them away. They reminded me of my younger self when I was just starting out as a teacher and helped me to think of the challenges and successes, I have had over forty years. I also got rid of bank statements going back years and manuals for things we no longer have, and I’ve got to do the same exercise with the electric bills and phone bills.
Maybe holding on to things make us feel secure or does acquiring things make us feel successful and valued. But we need to think about what is really valuable to us and what we really need to live a fulfilling life. What could we live without and what are the things that would make life difficult if we didn’t have them.
Jesus’ teaching about possessions in Luke’s gospel (12.22-34) uses the images of birds of the air and lilies of the field to build-up to the conclusion ‘sell your possessions, and give alms’ (v.33)
27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.”
Illustrating what it means to be rich towards God through the compelling contrast between those who store up treasures for themselves (v.21) as in the parable of the rich fool 21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” and those who store up unfailing treasure in heaven (v.33). The proverb ‘Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’ provides a fitting conclusion. (source Roots)
Where do we find our security – in material possessions, or elsewhere? Where do we find genuine meaning for life? Jesus takes the issue much further, encouraging his disciples to see that the purpose of life is to ‘be rich towards God’, which leads into teaching about trust in God, and the relationship between that trust and generosity towards others.
If our church buildings and all the things in them were gone would we still be a church? We have had to manage without the church buildings for many months during 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and it has forced us to be more creative about how we communicate and share Gods word, and to do things differently
I realise that it’s not the building but the people I miss and the technology we are able to use has helped us all to keep in touch. I’ve nor seen some members of my family since last Christmas but am able to keep in touch through Facebook, WhatsApp and just phoning and talking more than I did before.
This year Christmas will not be the same and maybe we can focus more on what it really is about .
Let us remember to hold on to what is important – our relationships, our kindness, our love of God and one another. Maybe its time to embrace change and think about what we really need to grow as a church. Are there things we can relinquish and replace or do without? Let us trust in God (and not things or habits) to lead us into the future to grow in the church and our community.