Monday, August 23, 2010

Sermon Scraps: Gluttony

I know I didn't post last week, but I also didn't preach. Thank you Charlie Parker for your wonderful homiletic weavings at the Bend camp meeting this year. Now, on to this week's scraps.

Gluttony . . . hmm, how I know you well. I remember Dr. McKenzie telling our preaching class that a sermon was an event, not a manuscript. Yesterday, that happened. I preached one sermon at the Bend UMC, and I preached a different one at Lometa UMC. I mean, they were the same basic sermon – same basic points in each, same scripture, same acrostic, but I hit on something in Lometa that I would like to explore a little more today.

I sit here in my office today, with my computer. I’ve updated my twitter and facebook, played my moves in the millions of online scrabble games I have going and while I’m working, I have the Big Brother live feed up. In addition to all this electronic feeding, I have Julie with me here today and she’s totally obsessed with playing fetch. I have a lot going on around me, and I haven’t really done anything yet. And it all seems to distract me from the work I’m supposed to be doing.

Jen (a dearly loved houseguest of mine this weekend) talked about cable television. When I was in seminary, I didn’t have cable or satellite TV. My logic was that if I had time to watch television, then I was neglecting my homework or reading or both. Now I have a satellite provider. I have well over 1000 channels to watch all the time. And if there’s nothing on live television, I have my DVR. At last check, I had over 150 programs recorded that I can watch anytime.

We are gluttons for media, which leads me to explore further a point I hit in my sermon yesterday in Lometa. What are we trying to fill? It seems to me that we are a culture filling ourselves with temporary junk and neglecting our relationships with God and with each other. Moreover, I believe we are a culture hurting, desperately hurting, and we need healing, true-deep down-it will be painful to open these wounds-healing. Instead, we feed ourselves, trying to fill those wounds. They never heal that way. It's only when we willing to expose the wound to the fresh air of the Holy Spirit that healing can begin.

Yesterday I said there is a time to feast, and there is. We need to feast on the goodness of God, but so often we block the goodness God intends for us with other stuff, with food, with alcohol or drugs, with media, with people, and so on. It seems to me that in a culture currently obsessed with “cleanses,” maybe we should be spending some more time fasting. I would not say that I love fasting, but I love what it does to and for me.

Two years ago I went to the OSL retreat in October with a large decision to make. I prayed. I fasted – seriously. If you know me, you know how hard it was to leave my laptop at home. And the answer did not come, then, but it did come later. Instead, I renewed a relationship with a close friend; I came home rested, and ready to be a better pastor. I came home closer to God. And so I’m asking what if we emptied some of the stuff in our life and filled it instead with God – which is the purpose of a fast. What if we purposefully turned off our televisions and live feeds, and gave that time to God? What would God do with us?

To get more specific, I’m thinking about Advent Conspiracy. I wonder if we approached the birth of our savior as a time to not to empty our wallets and fill our lives with more stuff that gets between us and God, what if we “fasted” from over-indulgent Christmas shopping this year? I’m asking . . . Really. Are there folks in my churches interested in joining Advent Conspiracy? Read about it. .


  1. During this entire sermon series I have tried to identify myself in every sin. Some I have found hit a little spot in me and of course that never feels wonderful. (My gluttony? Books. And the guilt of throwing away stuff, clutter, old unused gifts, donated clothes. Oh yes and books can't forget those. Did I mention I have lots of books. lol)

    As a parent, well, Christmas is a pain. It really is. I have a room full, yes an entire room, of toys. Why? Because at Christmas time everyone buys and buys and buys and buys. Others feel sorry for my kids and not having and so they give (what a wonderful treat and we do feel blessed because we all understand that it is the thought that is so awesome). I always manage to squeek a bit out for gifts for the kids, but I don't purchase an overload of toys. Typically at Christmas, Blaze and Tiva get new hairbrushes, crayons, paper, notebooks, pens, calendars. One year we got them new bedding sets.

    My kids don't expect a huge overflowing tree with hundreds of colorfully wrapped boxes. My kids get excited when they see three gifts each. One year a church here in town asked them what they wanted for Christmas, individually and for clothing sizes and then asked what they would want as a family. Both of my girls said they wanted nothing more than some "time with their family." We were given a Gingerbread House kit and we had a blast Christmas Day assembling a Gingerbread House together.

    What if the church stretched their "giving" budget this year? Give low income kids stuff they need. Toys are fun, but what about low clutter high use stuff? What about things they can do as a family? We could really get out to the community and give to a whole lot of people! Hmmmm.... Brain is ticking now.

  2. Mary, You're just beautiful. I totally agree. What if we gave time instead of stuff? We all have too much stuff, but none of us has enough time together. I mean it, really. We seem to hoard our love as if we're going to run out of it. What would the world be like if we were "prodigal" with our time (with each other). You've got me thinking . . . we could be dangerous together.