Breaking Out of the Bubble: Reflections for Pie Weekend
- November 11th, 2019
It is Pie Weekend at Plymouth Church -a time to consider God’s invitation to share what we have!
(What, you may ask, is Pie Weekend? It’s pretty simple: everybody brings a pie. To church. And we eat the pies. Together. This year it will serve to kick off our 2020 Stewardship campaign. You really should come).
The invitation to share is, itself, a form of God’s grace. The invitation is, itself, a gift. When we fail to heed it -when we decide not to share- our stuff can isolate us and cause us to miss out on what matters most.
13Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 16Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
It’s Pie Weekend at Plymouth Church –a weekend on which we remember how much we have been blessed and consider our contribution to the life of Plymouth Church.
And here is the thing about Pie Weekend: You can’t do it by yourself. It takes other people to put on Pie Weekend.
It takes other people to be a church. We are in this together or we are not in it at all.
So the text for this weekend offers a startling juxtaposition. This is the story of a man who is all alone. And it almost costs him everything.
Although the theme of greed and possessions figures prominently in the teaching of Jesus, this story seems to constitute an especially severe entry in the genre. And I cannot help but be drawn to a small detail in the story: the man in the parable talks to himself. Unusually among the parable of Jesus, most of the story takes the form of a soliloquy. As David L. Tiede notes in The Access Bible, the wealthy farmer’s folly seems evident in his unwillingness to consult with others or seek outside opinions. In his entry in the Sacra Pagina commentary series, Luke Timothy Johnson displays telling insight into the farmer’s mindset when he suggests translating dialogizomai as “calculate,” suggesting that the wealthy farmer is somewhat shrewd and self-interested.
The image that emerges is one of complete and utter self-delusion. This is the story of a man living a bubble of his own making.
The farmer’s soliloquy habit sets up another unusual feature of the text: the story employs direct divine speech. God interrupts the farmer’s musings at verse 20 with a harsh word of judgment. Given the farmer’s delusions, however, the story suggests that we might interpret God’s interruption as a gracious action. This may also explain the story’s lack of an ending. Luke may be inviting the reader to ponder the possible fate of the wealthy farmer once God has intervened to burst his bubble.
So consider it a sort of friendly warning: don’t let things get to this point. Don’t let your life be dominated by your stuff. Don’t isolate.
And thank God, we have more than the warning. We have a church.
So come to Plymouth Church this weekend. Share some pie. Ponder your pledge to our work in the year to come.
In will break you out of your bubble. And that will be a beautiful thing.