The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

The 2nd price tag (readings for Sunday, August 5)

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I had a book-glut, and decided to sell some on Ebay.

So I picked a few, shot pictures, grouped into saleable categories, wrote listings, uploaded photos, decided on terms, figured out shipping. And they sold.

So I made mailing labels, found packing material, picked up shipping boxes, packed and taped, delivered them to the post office, and followed up with the buyers by email.

It ate time alive. And I began to wonder: what if everything has two price tags?

There are the regular tags—the visible ones— that come off when I’ve paid for something and I say “Mine!” But there must also be an invisible tag, stuck tight till what I bought isn’t “mine” anymore. And on it (in invisible ink) is what I will pay to care for and, ultimately, to bid farewell to these things I own.

This second price was higher than I expected with the books. I might have done better to give them away. But now, looking around the room, I can sense those second tags dangling from everything else, and I will pay their claim, sooner or later.

In the Jesus story this week, Jesus talks about having lots and wanting more.

Now, really. How’m I supposed to preach on that?

Proper 13 (18) August 5, 2007
Luke 12:13-21; Colossians 3:1-11; Hosea 11:1-11; Psalm 107:1-9,43

Luke 12:13-21
13Someone out of the crowd said, “Teacher, order my brother to give me a fair share of the family inheritance.”
14He replied, “Mister, what makes you think it’s any of my business to be a judge or mediator for you?”
15Speaking to the people, he went on, “Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.”

16-19Then he told them this story: “The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: ‘What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.’ Then he said, ‘Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, and I’ll say to myself, Self, you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!’
20″Just then God showed up and said, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods—who gets it?’

21″That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.”

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Colossians 3:1-11
1-2 So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.

3-4Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

5-8And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.

9-11Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Hosea 11:1-11
1-9 “When Israel was only a child, I loved him. I called out, ‘My son!’—called him out of Egypt.
But when others called him,
he ran off and left me.
He worshiped the popular sex gods,
he played at religion with toy gods.
Still, I stuck with him. I led Ephraim.
I rescued him from human bondage,
But he never acknowledged my help,
never admitted that I was the one pulling his wagon,
That I lifted him, like a baby, to my cheek,
that I bent down to feed him.
Now he wants to go back to Egypt or go over to Assyria—
anything but return to me!
That’s why his cities are unsafe—the murder rate skyrockets
and every plan to improve things falls to pieces.
My people are hell-bent on leaving me.
They pray to god Baal for help.
He doesn’t lift a finger to help them.
But how can I give up on you, Ephraim?
How can I turn you loose, Israel?
How can I leave you to be ruined like Admah,
devastated like luckless Zeboim?
I can’t bear to even think such thoughts.
My insides churn in protest.
And so I’m not going to act on my anger.
I’m not going to destroy Ephraim.
And why? Because I am God and not a human.
I’m The Holy One and I’m here—in your very midst.

10-12″The people will end up following God.
I will roar like a lion—
Oh, how I’ll roar!
My frightened children will come running from the west.
Like frightened birds they’ll come from Egypt,
from Assyria like scared doves.
I’ll move them back into their homes.”
God’s Word!
Soul-Destroying Lies
Ephraim tells lies right and left.
Not a word of Israel can be trusted.
Judah, meanwhile, is no better,
addicted to cheap gods.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Psalm 107
1-3 Oh, thank God—he’s so good! His love never runs out.
All of you set free by God, tell the world!
Tell how he freed you from oppression,
Then rounded you up from all over the place,
from the four winds, from the seven seas.

4-9 Some of you wandered for years in the desert,
looking but not finding a good place to live,
Half-starved and parched with thirst,
staggering and stumbling, on the brink of exhaustion.
Then, in your desperate condition, you called out to God.
He got you out in the nick of time;
He put your feet on a wonderful road
that took you straight to a good place to live.
So thank God for his marvelous love,
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.
He poured great draughts of water down parched throats;
the starved and hungry got plenty to eat. …

If you are really wise, you’ll think this over—
it’s time you appreciated God’s deep love.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , Monte Asbury
To read these Bible texts in other translations, see BibleGateway.com

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