“Life is more” – a sermon for Harvest

During the gospel reading (Luke 12.16-23) the children will make a barn around the harvest gifts, using themselves as walls and a piece of fabric as the roof.

A barn seems a sensible enough place to store your crops, doesn’t it? But I wonder…

Let’s imagine that inside this barn we’ve made were not tins of tomatoes and packets of pasta, but instead all the riches of God’s kingdom – love, peace, joy, hope… At the moment they’re shut in, aren’t they? We can’t all get at them. They’re just for the person whose barn it is.

Now, what happens if we open the doors? That’s a bit better. Maybe a few of us could get in and see what’s inside. Perhaps the few who get in might even bring something out to share with the rest of us. But there’s not room for everyone.

What if we open the doors wider? And the windows too? Again, that’s better. More people could reach in, catch a glimpse of the treasures inside. But it’s still not for everyone.

What would happen, I wonder, if instead of opening the barn up little by little, window by window, door by door, we tore down the walls completely? Ah, now we’re getting somewhere! Everyone can see what’s inside, everyone can get to it, everyone can share in it, and take it out to share with more people too.

God’s kingdom doesn’t have any walls. God’s gifts to us can’t be fenced in. An open door or a window left ajar won’t do. God’s gifts of life and hope and joy and love aren’t only for a few people, aren’t something to be hidden away or doled out sparingly. God’s generosity to the world, to humanity, to us, is overwhelmingly abundant. God gives us, as our first reading said, “more blessings than we need”, and far, far more than we could ever deserve.

Because God’s kingdom doesn’t work on the basis of who deserves what. God’s kingdom works on the basis of relentless, undeserved grace. In God’s kingdom there are no deserving or undeserving poor.

The man in our story built a barn because he wanted to keep the good things God had given him for himself. Storing up resources might seem sensible, but God says to him “you fool!” because what is wise in the eyes of the world seems foolish to God, and God’s wisdom often seems foolish to the world. God’s kingdom is an upside-down sort of kingdom.

And what about us? Let’s not be like the man in the story, storing things up for ourselves, only to be called a fool by God. Let’s be more like the barn with its walls torn down, ready to share what God has given us with any and all who need it. Sharing our food and our money and ourselves and our faith and our love, sharing outrageously extravagantly, just as God has shared with us.

And if doing that means tearing down walls, or being called a fool, or turning the world upside down, so be it. To quote this morning’s gospel reading, “life is more”, more than food and clothing, more than what we can get for ourselves, more than the false limits we try to set on God’s limitless love. Life is more. God is ready to give us more. Are we ready to accept?

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