This was a fun one, not only to preach, but also to write! It was more of a commentary on a struggle I’m having in regards to the scripture than a super academic sermon. I think we all needed “light” today, though. We had a really busy weekend at the church – the choir sang in a big concert on Friday night, we were at the Rehoboth Harvest Block Party all day on Saturday and then I had a wedding on Saturday night. It was nice to just relax and be in worship and not feel like I had too many pieces in the air.
We also had some absolutely INCREDIBLE music! Mary Bee, who grew up in our church and now how a singing career in LA, was back in town doing a benefit concert (the concert the choir sang in on Friday night) and she graciously offered to sing in church this morning! So she sang How Great Thou Art after my sermon – I kept my phone recording so I would have it. It’s not the best recording, but you get the idea!
Rehoboth Congregational Church
September 18, 2016
My Apple Watch Issues
People who attend Tuesday Morning Bible Study are often privy to some of my more superficial confessions and struggles. For example, over the past year, I have somewhat obsessively talked about – at least once a month – my coveting of a piece of technology released in 2015: The Apple Watch.
So here’s the thing: I do not need an Apple Watch. BELIEVE me when I say that I have given this a LOT of thought since the first time I saw one in person at a wedding rehearsal last year where the wedding coordinator was wearing one with a white band (not that I remember all of the details or anything). I have a watch, I have a phone, I have a collection of other forms of technology that chirp at me day and night and I have GPS-enabled sports watch that I wear when I am running to track things like distance and time and pace, so I am pretty much covered on a bases.
I do not need an Apple Watch. But – I want one! They are so cool, the technology is amazing, I love the design and every time I see someone wearing one, I just think about how hip and trendy I would look if I had one.
But it is not something that I need. And, right now, it is not even something that I want for the right reasons.
I was thinking about my Apple Watch issues this week as I read and thought through this scripture, particularly the very last line, where Jesus says:
You cannot serve God and wealth.
Jesus is telling a parable here, The Parable of the Dishonest Manager. And while it is easy to get lost in the details of this particular story (I actually read in a commentary that biblical interpreters are more baffled by this parable than any of the other ones), the point is pretty clear at the end: If we are a little faithful, then we are a lot faithful. And if we are a little dishonest, they we are a lot dishonest.
In other words – and I apologize, because I know I say this all the time and am probably starting to sound like a broken record – our lives matter. The choices that we make in our lives – how we choose to earn a living and spend our money and organize our time and interact with other people – matter. We should earn fairly, give more and spend less. We should resist the consumerist society that we live in that is always telling us to make more, buy more and spend more. We should worship God first and not the material and monetary things that we have in our lives.
And we KNOW this; we all know this – in theory, anyway.
But, man, is it hard to live it out sometimes?
I read a book while I was on sabbatical called 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. The author, Jen Hatmaker, essentially took different aspects of her life – food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending and stress – and, for seven months, participated in seven one-month fasts on each item.
This book was AWESOME. I would get into it more, but the Patriots do play at 1:00, so I want to keep worship moving. However, I will say that as I was reading it, I was excited; I was excited just thinking about the possibility of not constantly needing (or wanting) more, I was excited thinking about the fact that it does not matter how much money I make or what I can buy, but God is good and I have what I need and that is enough and I was excited about the whole concept of simplifying my life and just re-focusing on God and how God is calling me to reach out to our world that is so, SO broken.
And then I realized that I was reading this book while sitting poolside at a spa in Hungary, so I was probably not off to the best start.
The struggle is real, my friends.
If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?
Oh man, this stuff is really hard to talk about. But it is also so important; it is important to remember that we have been entrusted not only with this beautiful world in which to take care of, but also with this beautiful Christian story that is still being written. We have to think about the ways that we are earning our living and spending our time, money and resources, because these choices make a real difference in our lives and in the world.
And we want that to be a positive difference in the world. We, as Children of God, have to prayerfully discern where God is in the midst of our choices, because who we are in our everyday, earthly lives will absolutely reflect who we are in our spiritual lives.
Jesus talked about the dishonest manager acting shrewdly and said:
For the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.
I believe God is calling us to be children of the light. And while sometimes that may mean making hard, but necessary choices, it also means that we are traveling along a journey that illuminated by God’s light where grace can be found.
Hear me out: I am in no way, shape or form saying that, in reading this scripture, we all need to freeze our spending, sell all of our possessions or find seven things to fast on. Bruce and I are people with hobbies, hobbies that involve expensive camera equipment, fishing rods and reels, running sneakers and golf clubs; I understand spending money on things that are not really crucial to our survival.
And then there is the whole thing with my shoe collection.
My point is this: This is just something that we should be talking about. We are never going to get it perfectly right; but in talking about it, we might be able to find a good balance that works for us.
We need to talk about these issues. We need to talk about what it means to live in this developed country and to have access to things that a lot of people around the world do not. At the same time we need to talk about earning money and having the right to spend the money that we earn. But then we need to talk about earning money in honest and fair ways. And, at some point, we need to talk about what God is calling us to do and how we set our priorities in order to do that.
In preaching this sermon today, I do not have any concrete answers for you; but I do want to start a conversation.
So I would encourage you all, especially as we head towards the year-end and Christmas season and retailers explode with sales and other buying coercions, to just be mindful of how God is calling you to live your life. For some, this might mean changing your spending or work habits. For others, this might mean taking more time to show gratitude for what you have and to pray for those who are not as fortunate. For others, this might mean focusing more time and energy on service. For others, this might mean changing absolutely nothing because you are walking through a really difficult journey and are just maxed out at the moment.
Here is the ironic thing: I got home last night after finishing this sermon and, as I was trying to wind down, I found myself scrolling through Facebook and an ad popped up. Do you want to know what it was for? The Apple Watch 2 Series that just came out.
And it’s even cooler than the original.
Like I said, we are never going to get it perfectly right. Truth be told, I do not even know what “right” is.
Ultimately, though, I think that the work that we do, the money that we spend and the possessions we acquire should bring us joy, they should shine light in our lives and they should help us find grace.
So listen to God; listen to God speaking to you in this time and in this place of your journey. And let yourself by a child of the light.
Thanks be to God!