Last week it was divorce. This week, poverty. What’s next, infanticide? The Lectionary… well, actually, Jesus… won’t give us a break with these tough texts. I can already hear the range of sermons that will be preached on Sunday. They’ll run from, “Jesus wasn’t really talking about money,” to “Jesus was really only talking to this one guy, not making a universal statement,” to “Jesus expects everything from us,” to “Jesus was a communist.” If you wanted to get a full understanding of the range of practice and belief in American Christianity, the sermons this Sunday will give you a glimpse of the truth that “neither height nor depth… can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus,” but it sure can separate us from each other.
This Sunday’s text is an interesting one as it follows on the heels of The Feast of Francis of Assisi on October 4th. Francis chose a life of voluntary poverty. Simply put, he begged for Christ. At Draughting Theology last week, we spent our hour discussing Francis and what he means for 21st Century American Christians. It was an interesting conversation because, early on, we decided that only a small handful, like maybe two people, in the whole world were living the Franciscan lifestyle. Not even the Franciscans are doing it. They know where their next meal is coming from… heck, the order even owns property. Parish priests are comfortable by the world’s standards. (Yes, even this lowly Associate, Saint Paul’s treats me very well). Not even Mother Theresa, for all her blessed work, lived a life worthy of Saint Francis.
So, Poverty then… What are we to do with it? I’m not 100% sure, but I think it falls somewhere between “Jesus wasn’t talking about money” and “Jesus was a communist.” Beyond that, I’m a) glad I’m not preaching again this week, b) wondering how my Rector will handle this in light of my daughter’s baptism this Sunday, and c) going to spend the week pondering it all anyway.
I invite your thoughts.