December 16, 2010

The Problem With Greed: Goodbye Auntie, Hello Money

So I am a bit late in posting today. I have two reasons really. 1 I was working on this Sunday's sermon most of the day, and 2 I wanted to wait until after an event this afternoon to post.

We had a funeral today. An older congregation member passed away Saturday night and the service was today. Our senior pastor took care of the details. So when I saw him on Tuesday I asked what type of help I could be.

Now depending on the person who has passed away I have helped out a number of different ways. Sometimes I simply run the sound system and be on hand to greet and talk with people afterwards. Other times I take a more active role in the service.

One of my roles today I have to admit was new to me. Now I am still pretty new at all this pastoring stuff myself but I've got a feeling that this would be odd even for a veteran. My pastor asked if I would be on hand for two things, a) to run the sound system (normal) and b) in case things get out of hand so I could help if we need to try to remove a family member from the building (????).

Yes you read that right. One of my stated duties today was to be an enforcer, so to speak, at a funeral.

To back the story up some when the family found out this woman was in the hospital one of this her nephews arrived a few days before anyone else new how serious things were. While he was their he either tried to get, or acted like he had power of attorney. When the actually family member arrived who had the power of attorney a rather heated discussion broke out. The topics covered included who ought to have the power of attorney, and who ought not to have it, who was and who was not the favorite niece or nephew and a number of other things. Long story short the hospital staff called the police to have the man removed.

There was concern that another like encounter would take place today. Thankfully it did not. The tension in the family did require what basically were two eulogies, one given by her grandson and the other by a niece. There were a few tense jabs in the eulogy given by the niece, around who was the favorite family member, family vacations and a few other topics. At the reception there was some quiet jocking for position in the family but I didn't need to toss anyone out, so we'll call that a win.

The sad thing is this whole mess is about money. Not that she had a lot, or that it is even really up for grabs yet, her husband is still very much alive!

The whole situation reminds me of Jesus' parable of the rich fool in Luke 12. Jesus' parable more or less starts with the same problem this family is having; two brothers are disputing over their inheritance. Instead of overseeing this one families dispute Jesus cuts to the core of the problem; greed.

Greed is just awful. Greed means you can't share. Greed means you can't be generous. Greed means you can't think about anything but money. Greed means instead of coming together as a family, a family falls a part. Greed means instead of mourning together remembering a departed loved one, you fight over the stuff they left behind.

What's the cure for greed? It's the same today as it was in the ancient world.

Gratitude. Gratitude knowing that God has provided everything you have. Gratitude knowing that all your talents, and all your treasures are a gift. When you are thankful, you can't be greedy. Greed is an unending hunger, it always needs just a little more. But you can be grateful for whatever you have.

As Christmas approaches may you take some time to be thankful for all you have, no matter how great or small.