March 10, 2009

Looking Forward to March 15, 2009 -- 3rd Sunday of Lent

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Exodus 16:14-20
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: 2 Samuel 12:2-6
  • From the Gospel: Luke 12:22-34
The Hymns this week are:
  • 260 God Who Gives to Life Its Goodness
  • 227 For the Fruit of All Creation
  • 356 Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God
  • 507 Today We All Are Called to Be Disciples
The Sermon title is Consumption – Cultural Contagion

Early Thoughts: How much is enough? When do we say stop? Will more "stuff" solve our dis-ease? Is the problem one of trust or simple greed?

As I look at it we have an illness. I call it consumption. And it is killing us, killing our planet, killing our communities. We need to find a cure.

WHat are some of the symptoms of this illness? Watch an hour of TV and you will note that 15 minutes of that hour are dedicated to commercials telling us to "buy buy buy". Listen to the talk about how to get out of the recession and you will hear economists and politicians talking about getting money out there so people can buy more stuf (and thereby kick start the economy). Take a look around your communities and see how many people have a house and yard and garage full of toys -- plasma TVs, quads, motor boats, top of the line canoes, multiple computers, ice augers, snowmachines, fancy kitchen gadgets... Visit a local landfill and see what we have determined to be "surplus". Walk through a toy aisle with my children and listen to the constant chorus of "I need to have, I really want...". The illness is real.

What causes the illness? SOmetimes it is simple greed, the desire to have more. SOmetimes it is a lack of trust, the need to get now because later it may not be available or I may not be able to get it. SOmetimes it is because we have lost sight of what is really important, of what is needed over what is wanted. Sometimes it is because we have bought into what the Moderator has called a "crumbling pyramid scheme" -- we have accepted the idea that the only possible way for the economy to operate is by getting more and causing unending growth. There are a variety of causes.

ANd the cure? At an individual level the cure lies in making different choices. But that is only part of it. THe illness is systemic, so the cure also has to be systemic. The illness is strong so the cure needs to be radical. We need to change the operating assumptions of our social-economic-political culture. WE need to redefine success. We need to stop telling people to buy stuff they don't need.

Can we find the cure to consumption? Can the dis-ease that forms our culture be removed/replaced with a healthier alternative? Do we really want to cure it? Do we even believe that we are sick?

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