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Saturday, August 6, 2022
Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 12:32–40
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night or near dawn and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
“But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (NRSV)
I’m finishing a book called Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire by Kurt Andersen. It’s a fascinating look, in part, at the sprawling, implausible garden that is American religion: the rise of charismatic churches, the prosperity gospel, and other engrossing interpretations of scripture. Unfailingly, such interpretations focus on power and comfort in this world, conveniently ignoring ideas like living modestly and taking care of the poor and the sick. That’s not the American way, after all.
Another topic covered in Fantasyland is eschatology, the study of the end times. This distinctly American obsession has been going on since the Second Great Awakening, and continues today, as believers scour scripture and the headlines to prove Jesus is returning soon. Very soon. As if there are extra points for the faithful who like to crunch numbers and solve puzzles.
I love the clarity of the “thief in the night” metaphor. Like a good Occam’s Razor, it helps clear away self-serving ideas and reminds me to always keep God first in my mind and heart. It’s the very opposite of the cheeky slogan, “Jesus is coming—look busy!”
Please help me keep you foremost in my mind, heavenly Creator, and remind me always that the worthwhile treasure is the one that cannot be stolen. Amen.
Written by Jim Garner, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church
Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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