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Monday, August 5, 2013

Stripped down

Pr. 13, Yr. C
Luke 12:13-21
The Rev. Betsy Hooper-Rosebrook

     On Friday, July 12th, I got up, appreciatively sipped a carefully measured 8 oz. glass of sparkling water that I was allowed before 7:00 a.m. because my surgery was after noon, and turned my back on all the other foods in the kitchen. When we got ready to head out to the hospital, I took off my rings and the necklace I almost always wear, and tucked away my purse, items it feels odd to leave the house without. After checking in for surgery, I gave Tom my insurance card, driver's license, and phone. Once the nurse escorted me into pre-op, I was relieved of my clothes in exchange for a hospital gown. Finally, after being poked, prodded, questioned, and labeled, I was rolled off to surgery where I had to let go of even my consciousness in the sleep of anesthesia.
     If you've had surgery, then you're familiar with this process of stripping away everything that seems to keep you safe and separate from...well, from everything. It has a purpose, but that doesn't change the sense of vulnerability it creates.   
     We all surround ourselves, insulate ourselves, in a variety of ways. The guy in Jesus' story had his grain and barns. We've got clothing and cars, books and bank accounts, jobs and memberships, homes and hair, food and photos. Lots of these things, in and of themselves, are very good; they help us function better, enjoy life, keep safe, recall times and people past, and engage others in the present. However, there's a risk to them too: we can begin to imagine that they are what really matters, and that bigger/better/more will help us function even better, make life even more fun, keep us even safer, give us more in control. We may get to go along for quite a long time imagining that, and in the process, some of us (probably most of us) get pretty far off track, becoming greedy in at least the sense of continuing to believe that more--and more, and more--is preferable.
     And then something happens. We have surgery, we become old, we lose a job or lose our health, we face a calamity or crisis. Whether all at once or bit by bit, all those external supports begin to fall away, and eventually we're stripped of the things that once seemed so valuable, so important, so strong and enduring. All we have left is God...or maybe, put more accurately, that would be phrased, "All we have left is that God has us."
     Eat, drink, and be merry indeed; celebration, bread broken together, and rejoicing in our blessings are among our greatest pleasures. But remember who satisfies our thirst and who fills our hunger--for love, for life--with good things; who takes us up in Her arms and heals us; whose mercy endures forever. Ponder these things, as the psalmist advises us, and make the choice to invest your best riches in the God who always has you.

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