Packages In The Mail

No one can serve two masters…you cannot serve both God and money.

– Matthew 6:24

…but somehow we think that we can.

I got two packages in the mail today.  One was from the Ukraine, the other was from the USA.  The one from Ukraine was worth twice the one from the USA.  There was no duty due on the first.  There was thirty dollars owed on the second, which was worth only seventy dollars to begin with.

I still read.  I read books.  I recently ordered and received a used book through Abe Books.  It cost me a dollar and fifty cents.  Had I ordered it through a book seller in the USA the shipping on it would have been a minimum of twenty dollars through the US Postal Service.  It’s a small paperback book.  Instead I bought it through a book seller in the UK.  I was charged a dollar and a half for air mail shipping across the Atlantic Ocean.

A friend of mine in seminary tells of having grown up in the bush in Alaska where his father was a minister.  One day they received a package from a lady’s mission group in a church who wanted to support my friend’s father.  It was a box of tea.  Unfortunately, it was a box of used tea bags.  More precisely it was a box of once-used tea bags.  So these women had used the bags once, then hung them to dry, and packaged them up, because there was still a lot of good use in these, right(?!) and sent them off in support of this clergyman and his family serving a church in the middle of Alaska.

Try to imagine what it’s like to always get someone else’s dregs.

Try to imagine what it’s like to always be the recipient of what’s left over.

That’s what the poor deal with all of the time.

This week’s Gospel comes from  Luke 12:13-21.

And don’t forget to read the rest of the chapter.  And then go back and read the parallel text in Matthew 6.  jesus doesn’t just say that it is difficult to have money and to follow God.  He says that it’s impossible.  It’s impossible to make money and sit in the pew on Sunday with a clear conscience.

Sell everything you have and give to the poor.

– Luke 12:33

People want the best of both worlds.  People who call themselves Christians are all caught up in this.  But Jesus says it doesn’t work that way.  And you have to choose.

Three times this season so far we have had people come to pick haskap in our orchard who have argued with us about our giving away this food for free.  All of them claim to be followers of Christ.  It’s the saddest state of affairs.  Perhaps we will stop allowing others to come and to pick for free and just harvest the berries ourselves for giving away to designated homeless.

Somehow all of these taxes and customs and cost of shipping are all related to a society that is deaf to the words of Christ and who have forgotten how to care for one another, who does not see Christ in the face of those whom they serve, and is intent on pulling down their barns in order to clear a way for bigger ones.

For the pagan world runs after all these things…

– Luke 12:30

If you cannot give everything you have away.

If you cannot give the best you have, or your first earnings, if you turn a blind eye to the economy of exploitation, then what do you know of the grace of God?  That’s what we ask ourselves every day.

Tea anyone?