Sunday ~ July 31, 2016 ~ Pastor Neil Wilson ~
A few years ago a new series aired on BBC which was called, The Men Who made us Fat. In the opening scene of one episode the journalist who narrates the series goes into a diner for breakfast. He orders a breakfast with the innocuous sounding name: The Kid’s Breakfast. Now, that sounds like a prudent caloric saving choice for a grown person, doesn’t it? But, there is a hidden catch with this menu choice. This kid’s breakfast consists of an eight egg omelet; a dozen pieces of bacon; a dozen sausage links; two kinds of potatoes (hash browns and potatoes sauteed with mushrooms); and four pieces of French Toast, sliced bread, and toast (all buttered). The restaurant calls it the Kid’s Breakfast because “it weighs the same as a small child.”
Now most of us couldn’t begin to even put a dent into this breakfast, even if we sat there all day. But, believe it or not, there are people who actually try. There are probably even a few that get their money back (as promised) if you eat it all.
“Supersizing” is what most of us call it. Legend has it that the phenomenon got started when Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s, was finally persuaded to add a “size large” to all the menu items. Kroc was sure that people would just buy another order of fries if they were still hungry. His executives argued otherwise. They knew that people would not want to go to the counter a second time because that would make them look like gluttons. But eating a double portion that was sold as a single serving? I don’t have to tell you how successful that marketing idea became!
It wasn’t long before fast food chains figured out they could increase profits even more if they bundled food items together and knocked a dime or a quarter off the price. And voila, the value meal was born. Today so many people have been persuaded that up-sizing and item bundling is the smart thing to do that 35% or more of adults over the age of 20 in America are overweight to the point it endangers our health. It seems that corporations with an insatiable hunger for profits hit on something big: We humans often have no idea when to quit. And eating isn’t the only area we have this problem. We can see that clearly in the parable of the rich fool.
The farmer, the fool, in the Gospel story, doesn’t have a problem with pushing himself away from the table. He has a problem with putting the brakes on expanding his agricultural operation. Usually this parable is held up as a warning against the accumulation of wealth, but perhaps there is more to it than this. Greed is only one of several possible reasons that could have caused the farmer to
become obsessed with filling up grain bins and building new ones.
Maybe he wasn’t so much greedy as fearful and insecure -not trusting God to provide his daily bread.
Maybe he did it for the sheer love of the game, the challenge and the achievement.
Or maybe he really liked to win and he enjoyed besting his fellow farmers in the Biggest Crop of the Year competition. Whichever of these scenarios may be the case, Jesus makes it clear that this farmer’s life is at odds with what God regards as a meaningful and substantial life.
The Message version of the Bible often has a way of getting to the heart of the matter it translates verse 20: “Just then God showed up and said, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods-who gets it? ‘
This is arguably the strongest condemnation that Jesus renders in all the Gospels. It comes out of a tradition that long predates Jesus. That tradition, known as the Wisdom tradition in biblical studies, intends to teach about nature, reality, virtue, and the divine. In this tradition to be a fool wasn’t really about being dim-witted, thoughtless, or unwise. To be a fool was to be one who failed to comprehend the power and purpose of God in all things.
The farmer is a fool because he seems little concerned or aware of the fact that he is not in full control of his own destiny and welfare. As he goes about his business, he doesn’t give a thought about the fact that his days are numbered. He acts .as if he has all the time in the world, when in truth only God knows the number of any of our days.
Well, the weather produced a fine harvest and he benefits from it. Good for him. He seems to be a capable farmer. Yet, he fails to acknowledge that God’s abundance has been poured out for anyone other than himself.
His life is all about whatever he can create, what he can consume, what he can accomplish. His days are like golden fat-saturated French fries consumed one after another. He has no awareness of how sluggish, flabby, and poorly fed h;s soul has become. If he thinks of the spiritual aspect of his life all, there is no indication.
No need to worry about things of God. There will always be tomorrow, right?
There are retirement days ahead that can be devoted to such matters of God and his church. Right now, though, personal business affairs, practical matters of home and family, and life’s pleasures take priority. The things of “My ” world need
attention. God’s business can wait. All the while a slow spiritual heart disease sets in, his life connection to God filling with plaque and slowly clogging up.
I heard a TV preacher once say that far too many Christian today live on a spiritual diet equivalent to little more than Fritos and Coke. One good burp and it’s all gone!
God in Christ offers us a different menu than the world offers. Compared to the world’s menu it is simple and yet nourishing. There is only one thing: It is not fast-food picked up at a convenient drive-through and consumed as we speed through life oblivious to God and others around us.
We share this heavenly food whenever we gather around the table for Holy Communion.
But we also share it whenever we are aware of our place within God’s wider plan for all of humanity and all creation.
There is nothing wrong with the idea of supersizing life, God is all about that!
But it is never about just me or you. God when God acted in creation created us in community, first a family in the garden. Then even after sin tainted the creation God acted to save creation through a people. And when Jesus came he acted through a group of disciples which became a new community, the church.
We, you or I are not God’s plan but we are all an important part of God’s plan.
So when God offers you physical sustenance of any sort it’s okay to say “Will you supersize that, God?” And then tum to your neighbor in need and say to him/her “Here, I’ve got more than I need.”
But most importantly we will find that everyone’s spiritual sustenance will have been supersized as well!