TWENTY-SIXTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
25 September 2016
For 28 years I lived at the Ecumenical Religious Center in Eau Claire.
The building housed not only the Newman Parish, but University Lutheran Church as well.
The building won several awards for architectural excellence.
Outside the main entrance to the building stood a large butternut tree for years.
One fall night I was standing outside the front entrance waiting for a meeting to begin.
It was a great evening.
I was feeling very good about the day,
all was right with the world and God and me.
Suddenly I felt something hit my head–not hard, but definite, and again something hit my head.
I moved a little, and still again something–not hard, but definite hit my head.
Perhaps if I had more cushion on top I might not have felt it.
These falling objects interrupted my wonderful evening.
I looked up to discover a gray squirrel peeling a butternut,
dropping the little pieces, RIGHT ON ME.
I’m not sure exactly what got into me, but I picked up a small stone and tossed it at the squirrel.
I missed by a mile.
And I could swear the little squirrel laughed–that was a challenge.
I picked up another–missed, another-missed.
The squirrel didn’t move, seemed to be taking a great deal of pleasure out of the whole thing.
Finally, I picked up another stone, threw it with great gusto.
It bounced off the tree, hit the corner of the building, and clunked me on the head.
I reaped what I had sown.
I probably deserved that bouncing stone–No, more accurately, I did deserve it.
And that’s the hard part of the gospel today–
to hear this story of the rich man and the poor man, to hear that we reap what we sow.
I think we sometimes believe that God is this old softy–
a real teddy bear who will no matter what we do, find a way to give us heaven.
But what if it’s not up to God?
Jesus in the gospel does not say, God put the rich man in torment.
Doesn’t blame it on God at all, but seems to say simply, you reap what you sow.
You are the most responsible for the way things turn out, for the way your life turns out.
This is a hard gospel to hear.
It raises all sorts of issues about our generosity, our complacency, our responsibilities.
But mostly it’s a hard gospel to hear because it reminds us,
that no one is more responsible for our lives–here and in the hereafter–
than we are.