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Pastor's Corner: For the love of ...

 

Last updated 9/23/2022 at 12:15pm

"For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains" (1 Timothy 6:10).

In the lectionary lately, we have been richly blessed with Bible passages about, well, riches. We have been warned away from the love of money and the love of what that money gets us (think: honor, security, influence, comfort, cars with all kinds of gadgets ...). We have been warned in our Old Testament readings, like when the prophet Amos condemns Israel's love of money and exploitation of the poor; we have been warned in our psalms, our epistles, and our gospels. Last Sunday, Jesus even came right out and said it: "You cannot serve God and wealth" (Luke 16:13).

This reminds me of the recently averted railroad strike - not because the workers or the unions were making their demands out of love of money, but precisely because they were making their demands out of love for their families and concern for their health and wellbeing, and NOT out of love of money.

While I am by no means an expert in railways, unions, or the points system for earning time off, I have tried to listen to those who are. It seems that the workers have been advocating for a more just system in which they are treated as human beings rather than machines that never break down or automatons that never love. Machines don't wake up in the morning with a head-splitting, nose-honking cold; automatons don't have their daughter's first soccer game or their father's sudden, hip-shattering fall to fit into their schedules. But men and women do. They deserve to be treated as valuable neighbors whose needs and responsibilities are just as important and sacred as those of the railroad company owners.

Of course, I doubt Jesus wants us to cast the folks on the opposite side of the bargaining table as monsters. Jesus was clear that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). The prophet Amos would have some strong words for the owners, executives and shareholders, but they still fall within the scope of Jesus' saving love. Perhaps the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had this idea in mind when he wrote, "If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility."

That works the other way, too. If the company higher-ups could read the 'secret histories' of those who worked the rails, perhaps they would be moved with understanding and compassion, and there could be less friction between the two sides. I know that seems like a long shot, so instead, perhaps we should pray that they read more from the first letter to Timothy:

"As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is" (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

Life is more than amassing money. It is about learning to love the Lord, our neighbors, and ourselves. So, for the love of the Lord, let all of us - the wealthy and the poor and everyone in between - be rich in good works and overflowing with the spirit of solidarity.

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Pastor Megan Hoewisch

First Lutheran Church

 

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