Friday, September 27, 2013

Sermon for Sept 29, 2013; 1 Timothy 6:6-19

Rev. George Miller
1 Timothy 6:6-19
“More, So Much More”
Sept 29, 2013

Months ago we were graced with the musical gifts of Angie Weaver who sung a song titled “More, So Much More.”

It was a tribute to a life lived in Christ, in which the heart receives peace, joy is boundless and we can be who we are supposed to be.

“There’s more, so much more every passing day. For the life I now live God is living through me in each word, in each deed and each day.”

Looking back over the scriptures we’ve read and sermons you’ve heard since then, we have witnessed various biblical characters who would proclaim the notion of “more, so much more” to be so.

Joseph who finds a way to bestow grace upon his brothers.

The leper Namaan who is dipped 7 times in the Jordan River and comes to believe in God.

The Israelites who worship their Baals but shall return like trembling doves, responding to the roar of God the lion. (Hosea 11:1-11).

The prodigal son who returns to his father after being away far too long.

Paul who writes from prison to request that the slave Philemon is greeted by his master like a brother and not piece of property.

In all these scriptures there is the element of having “enough”, of flourishing and of there being “more, so much more.”

Last week I watched a documentary about a family that live in Orlando. It’s called “Queen of Versailles.”

It’s about David and Jackie Siegel who embark on building the largest single-family home in America.

Begun in 2004, the house is 90,000 square feet, taking up a 10 acre plot. To put it another way, enough space to put a Disney theme park in it.

Versailles, as they affectionately call their home, has 30 bedrooms, a theater, bowling alley, roller rink, man caves and yoga studios.

As the movie begins, David is a self-made billionaire who started Westgate Resorts. He and Jackie are sitting on a gold throne while talking about their lives.

We meet their 8 kids, their numerous pets and their Philippino nanny who has not visited her own family in 11 years and uses one of the kid’s outside plastic toy castle as her apartment.

The film shows parties, shopping sprees, rooms and rooms filled of stuff, a tour of Versailles…and then we witness the day the stock market crashed and the recession began.

The documentary changes course as servants are let go, thousands of Westgate employees are fired and construction on Versailles is halted and put on the market for $50 million “as is” or $100 million finished.

What follows are scenes of “Say what?” as the Sigel’s enter into their own version of being broke.

Instead of flying on a personal jet, Jackie flies coach and then is shocked to learn her car rental does not come with a driver. She pulls up to the McDonald’s drive thru in her stretch limousine.

Sadly, with the servants gone, no one is feeding the pets and a lizard dies from a broken heat lamp and starvation. Dog feces are everywhere.

The scene that struck me most is when Jackie, now on a tighter budget, goes shopping at Wal-Mart and still leaves with five carts full of…stuff.

She wheels in a bicycle that she purchased and places it in the garage, in which at least 10 other bikes sit, untouched.

While watching the film, I couldn’t help but to realize just how sad and scared, stressed out and lonely they all were.

They were not content at all, no matter how much they had.

It was a case in which more, so much more had brought them less, so much less.

You have to wonder what the writer of 1 Timothy would say about “Queen of Versailles” or what he would say about our society in general.

I wonder if we, who claim to be a largely Christian country, would fit into the author’s notion of what ethical Christian living looks like.

As stated last week, modern scholars believe Paul did not write this letter, but that it was composed somewhere between 90-105 CE.

It was a time of church growth and local congregations trying to figure out what it meant to be a Christian amongst the popular culture.

In this letter we find a call to order, a mapping out of how to run the church and how to live one’s life.

There are things in this letter we can challenge and disagree with, like the author’s command that women stay silent and not have authority over a man.

Then there are things in this letter that give us pause; a chance to hold a mirror up to ourselves and see what is reflected back.

“Of course,” the author states, “there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.”

I find great peace in this sentence. It sounds like something to live for.

Very Zen or something you’d read in The Purpose Driven Life or expect to hear from Buddha or Yoda or from Oprah.

But what does contentment look like? What does contentment even mean?

Dang if I know, and I sure hope you don’t expect me to tell you the secret, because I can’t.

In fact, there was a moment when watching “Queen of Versailles” that I wanted to judge the people in it so bad, but then I looked around my own home and realized who am I too judge?

Living in a house too big for one man and two cats. Hundreds of CDS. Two closets filled with clothes, most of which I no longer like or can’t fit into.

Who is truly content, and how do we get there? I wonder if the author of today’s reading truly felt as content as he portrays himself to be.

Would he really have been fine with one article of clothes and a bowl of soup?

Is today’s reading an etched in stone requirement of faith, or is it something to inspire to, something to strive for that we may never achieve but it’s well worth trying?

To be content…ahhh, like the frog on the lily pad in today’s bulletin, just chilling, perpetually laid back on a lily pad…

Then I think back to the song Angie Weaver sang, “More, So Much More” and how beautiful it was.

And the song itself starts with the claim that the singer had given their heart to Jesus. And the act of giving became the start; the start of peace, joy, truly living and truly being.

Then to think of the last few months and what we have discussed. What do we get from believing in God; what is it we get from following Jesus?

Without hesitation three thoughts came to mind. First, is the way in which Jesus showed us that we can enjoy together that which God had created and called good.

A green pasture to lie upon when we are tired, a sip of juice and taste of bread when we are hungry.

That we live in a world in which the waters are filled with fish and the land with grain, and if we realize we have “enough” we can share with those who are lacking.

Second, are the stories Jesus told about lost coins and missing sheep and a thought-for-dead son in which we have been reassured that no matter how lost we feel, no matter how far we stray, we can always return and be welcomed by God.

Third, is Paul’s declaration that in Christ crucified we have been justified by faith.

Meaning we have already won the race; there is nothing we have to do to earn God’s grace.

We just have to be willing to receive it and to act like we believe it.

More so much more? Of course, there are other examples that come to mind, but these are a start.

They are a way for us to think, to embrace, to dance with, journey and give thanks for.

Maybe you have had a hard week; maybe you’ve come here today wondering if things can get any worse.

Maybe everything is fine with you, but you’re worried about someone in your life who is struggling, someone who seems to be barely getting by, and it’s getting you down.

Maybe you just need to be reminded in the midst of the rain and the storms, in the midst of the news and the political plights, that God is indeed real. Jesus is real.

And with that knowledge comes the notion that 90,000 square feet of house won’t bring happiness; 30 bedrooms won’t make anyone content.

And with that knowledge comes the simplicity of knowing God gave us life so that we could live it, that Christ died so we would know that we have already won the prize and are worthy of eternal love.

And that when we have strayed too far the Holy Spirit fills our being with breath so we have the ability to return back to our Creator.

And that is just the beginning. When we give our hearts to Jesus we never lose, we instead gain, more, so much more.

More, so much more then the sun in the morning and the moon at night.

More, so much more then we could ever imagine.

More, so much more than we could ever be prepared for.

More, so much more than the world would ever want us to believe.

For every passing moment we live for Christ, God is living through us in each word, in each deed and each day.

Amen and amen.

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