Thursday, February 18, 2016

Psalm 27

Genesis 13:1-7, 14-18

Philippians 3:2-12

Lot, who was traveling with Abram, was also rich in sheep and cattle and tents. But the land couldn’t support both of them; they had too many possessions.

[Genesis 13:5-6 The Message]

Family Feus
Family Feud

Whenever I feel a need for mindless entertainment, I watch television game shows. My favorite is Family Feud hosted by comedian Steve Harvey. Two families compete for a chance to win $20,000 and a brand new car. The questions are inane and the contestants’ answers are fodder for Harvey’s suggestive, often risqué jokes. As I said – it’s mindless entertainment.

But at its premise is the age-old truism that greed triggers strife among otherwise decent people. It’s as old a story as that of Abram and Lot; relatives with many possessions between them, but who couldn’t live together because of the quarrels that broke out among their hired hands.

Every family has experienced the same type of conflict at one time or another. It typically follows a death, when relatives fight over an inheritance. Siblings part ways without speaking to each other for years, if ever again.

Many of the controversies that are in dispute in the political arena over government spending, entitlement programs, health care and social services, are rooted in greed. Big business and labor are in constant combat over wages, benefits and working conditions; each side wanting more from the other.

Not even the church can escape it. A common occurrence takes place around this time of the year when the normally calm, faithful church folk, who for months have built up the war chest of their belligerence, ambush the annual congregational meeting to wage a bitter battle over the budget. It’s every pastor’s (and church council’s) nightmare.

Abraham and Lot divide their land.
Abraham and Lot divide their land.

Abram decides to give his nephew, Lot, the choice of land in order to avoid conflict. It appears at first as if Lot gets the better of the bargain. But if you read on to the subsequent chapters you know that Lot’s decision doesn’t turn out so well for him or his family.

The difference comes down to the fact that Abram trusts in God’s promises. That seems so difficult for many of us – dare I say, all of us – to do. Lot chose the immediate over the future. And we, like Lot, usually seek the short-term solutions, the quick fixes, based on the bottom line and motivated by selfishness and materialism, which often have negative consequences in the long run. Material wealth doesn’t guarantee a life of prosperity.

Due to our human sinful nature, family feuds will continue. But they don’t have to flourish.

 Everything you see, the whole land spread out before you, I will give to you and your children forever,” God says to Abram. Likewise, God’s abundant blessings are ours. They may not be immediately obvious; they may not even happen in our lifetime, but they will eventually come to pass.

Be strong, and let your heart take courage;

    wait for the Lord!

[Psalm 27:14 NRSV]

2 comments

  1. We did not seem to have a disagreement concerning our proposed budget, nor have we had much disagreement about the budget in the years that I can recall. Sometimes there are questions but ver eldom any real disagreement. ARE WE AN UNUSUAL CONGREGATION???

  2. William,
    I would not call your congregation unusual, but rather, HEALTHY. My brief experience in the office of Bishop has taught me that when there is a budget battle, it’s often not money that’s the issue, but the Pastor. Someone or several people are not happy with the pastor for whatever reason, so they propose cutting the budget with the hope of frustrating him/her to the point of resigning. When people can discuss differences respectfully, as it appears to be in your case, conflict is resolved without rancor. But those who fear or resent the pastor’s authority look for other ways to undermine that authority; and usually, the budget is the most tempting target.
    Lenten Blessings!
    +Bishop Allende

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