Last night I led the first session of our benefice’s Lent course. It is the first Lent course we have run since a previous Methodist minister in the village left about three or four years ago. This year we are using the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland‘s course, Parables and Possessions. I enjoyed the discussion we had around the parable of the sower and Jesus’ subsequent explanation to the disciples of why he taught in parables and then explaining the (or perhaps that should be “a”) meaning of the parable (Matthew 13:1-23).
In the explanation of the parable of the sower, Jesus talks about how “the cares of the world and the lure of wealth” can choke the impact of the “word of the kingdom” in the life of a person (and by extension, the life of the community of which a person is a part). The “lure of wealth” creates anxieties and fears which are inimical to the love to which God calls and invites us. The possession of wealth creates worlds of possibilities, but also brings us choices we have to make about how that wealth is to be used. This is true not only of “the rich” (usually “those who have more wealth than me”) but of anyone who has disposable income above and beyond that required to provide the necessities of life. In those circumstances, to say, “we can’t afford this” is not always a statement about how much money is available but may sometimes be a statement that, where resources are limited, we choose to spend this on x rather than on y.
That choice, to spend on one thing rather than another, becomes very revealing about our attitudes. The choice is a moral one, but one that can muffle of choke the call of the word of the kingdom. Choosing to heed the voices that reinforce our fears desensitizes our capacity to respond to others in love, openness and generosity.
May Lent be a time when we examine the choices we make, reject the fearful ones and act in love and in faith in the One who provides for us and for others.
When faced with choices about material riches and possessions do you respond out of fear or love?