Monday, August 30, 2010

Thank You for Inviting Me

Sermon from August 29, 2010
(Pentecost 14 – Year C)
Luke 14: 1, 4-14
St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Waco, Texas

A little over two weeks ago, while I was on vacation, I went to the car dealership to buy a new car for Susan.
Susan had been driving a mini-van for years, yet our family has pretty much gone past the need for a mini-van.
So I went into the car dealership looking to make a purchase.

It was a hot, slow Thursday afternoon, a pretty good time to buy a car.
I began talking to the fleet manager, and before you know it, we had struck a deal on how much he was going to give me for the mini-van we were trading in and how much I was going to pay for the new car.
We shook hands on the deal and I signed my name to his form, agreeing to the negotiated prices.
I was now the proud owner of a new, white Honda CRV, with that wonderful “new car smell.”

However, a man called the “credit manager” then appeared on the scene to set up our car loan.
It became quickly obvious that, even though hands had been shaken and backs had been slapped, I really did not own a new car at all.
It became quickly obvious that what this transaction was really about was about me going into more debt, a debt that certainly must be repaid.

In order to go into debt, I had to complete a lot of forms.
And in order for the credit manager to run a report to ascertain my credit rating, he had to get my social security number and a copy of my driver’s license.
Now, whenever I go to get my driver’s license picture taken, I always make sure that I have on my clerical collar for my picture.
So when the credit manager looked at my driver’s license, he said:

“Rev. Fisher, you should see some of the riff-raff who come in here trying to get a car loan,
But I am sure that your credit rating will be just fine.”
Strangely, I was flattered by this comment –
And I did have a sense of misplaced pride when my credit rating came out with a stellar rating, which really only shows that I am just very good at being in debt.

After I was congratulated for my stellar credit rating, the credit manager led me through the loan agreement and amortization schedule, showing me how and when my debt must be repaid each month.
We shook hands again and more backs were slapped.
I was congratulated for making such a wise purchase.

Yet a few days later, I realized that this transaction was really not about being invited into the great banquet of Honda ownership.
This transaction was really about going into debt, a debt that must be repaid.

Jesus says:
“When you throw a banquet, do not invite your rich friends and those with stellar credit ratings.
But when you throw a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.
When you throw a party, invite the riff-raff who could never qualify for a loan.
Invite the people who can never repay the debt.”

Now I know that Jesus is saying that the host of a party is supposed to invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.
I know that Jesus is saying here that we are to practice a radical hospitality, a hospitality where everyone is welcome.

Yet, as I have had said before in other teachings, I believe that many of Jesus’ stories and teachings are not centered on you and me.
I believe that Jesus’ stories and teachings are centered more on who God is.
Therefore, Jesus is not just giving us a simple lesson on nice manners at a luncheon.
Jesus is not just telling us about whom we should invite to our parties,
As much as Jesus is telling us about whom he invites to his party.

For when we throw a party, we are selective in whom we invite.
Yet when God throws his party of unconditional love, everyone is welcome.
When we throw a party, we run a credit report to see if the credit rating of our guests is good enough.
Yet when God throws his party, the credit reports are ripped up and the riff-raff are invited along with the rich.
When we throw a party, we sign a loan agreement that specifies when and how we are to repay all the love we have been given.
Yet when God throws his party, God takes the loan agreement, he takes our debt, and he nails the repayment schedule to the Cross, once and for all.
Because at God’s banquet, at Jesus’ party, everyone is invited, invited to live debt-free.

And our Christian response to God’s invitation,
Our Christian response to debt-free living,
Is to live full of thanksgiving and gratitude.
And we live a life of thanksgiving and gratitude,
By practicing saying ‘thank you,’ each and every day.

When I was in kindergarten, I was invited to the birthday parties of most all of my classmates.
On many Saturday afternoons, my parents would drop me off at the house of a classmate for a celebration of ice cream and cake.
My mother taught me that, whenever I left a birthday party, I should always find the host and express my gratitude by saying:
“I had a very nice time.
Thank you for inviting me.”

Now whenever these birthday parties were over, my mother would usually pick me up at the front door.
And as we walked down the front walk, she would ask me this question:
“Jeff, did you find Mrs. Smith and tell her:
‘I had a very nice time.
Thank you for inviting me’?”

Yet sometimes I would forget to say thank you to the host.
And my mother would insist that I march back up the front walk and into the house to express my gratitude.
I would whine:
“But Mom, that is so embarrassing to go back into the house and find them in their backyard.”
Yet my mother would not back down,
And I would re-enter the party, and find the mother of my classmate and say:
“I had a very nice time.
Thank you for inviting me.”

I was taught by my parents to say ‘thank you,’ because sometimes we need to be taught how to be grateful and thankful.
And each and every Sunday at St. Alban’s, we open the doors of this church so that each one of us can be taught the practice of being thankful.
In fact, every Sunday at St. Alban’s, we celebrate what we call:
The Holy Eucharist.
And that word, ‘Eucharist,’ in Greek, actually means ‘to give thanks.’

So every Sunday, we are invited around God’s Table to God’s party, to practice saying thank you, thank you to God for loving us.
Every Sunday, we practice saying thank you, thank you for inviting the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind and the riff-raff to God’s party.
Every Sunday, we practice saying thank you, thank you for ripping up our credit reports and canceling our debts.
In this church, we celebrate the Eucharist, we say thank you - because we will never, ever, need to repay the debt of love that we have been given.

This morning, you are invited to celebrate at God’s party, God’s Eucharist, with bread and wine.
You are invited to practice gratitude, gratitude for a debt-free life.
You are invited to march yourself up this aisle to find Jesus, our Host, and say:

I had a very nice time.
Thank you - for inviting me.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Prophets of Katrina

As many people mark the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I am reminded of the sermon I preached on that next Sunday, in the suburbs of Houston, as evacuees were streaming into our city. Portions of this sermon were picked up by the Episcopal News Service, in their reporting on how various parishes were reacting to the crisis.

The Prophets of Katrina
September 4, 2005
(Pentecost 16 - Proper 18 - Year A)
Matthew 18: 15-20
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Cypress, Texas

I welcome all of you here today, especially our friends from Louisiana and Mississippi.
I don’t think that many of us in the pews today are here in church to listen about how this is the 16th Sunday after Pentecost.
Instead, we have come into this holy place to hear the good news of Jesus Christ in the midst of the unbearable and frustrating tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.

Some of you who have been in my office and have seen what is framed and sitting on my desk.
It is a quote from the French theologian, Paul Claudel:
The quote says:
"Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or remove it.
He came to fill it with his presence."
Let me say that again:
"Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or remove it.
He came to fill it with his presence."

Jesus came to earth not to take away the unpleasant and bad parts of being human.
Jesus, through the downward journey of the Cross, enters the bad parts of being human and fills it with his presence.
For, joy (and suffering) and life (and death) are all a part of the human experience.

The same Gulf of Mexico that lulls us to sleep with its gentle waves on a summer’s night in Galveston is the same Gulf of Mexico whose waves can bring catastrophic loss.
The same water that we use to joyfully baptize is the same water that flows over broken levees.
The same Astrodome in which we chanted "Luv Ya Blue" is the same Astrodome which is now a ghetto for the sick.
God gives us freedom, freedom to experience both the ups and the downs of life.
And, Jesus does not eliminate the ups and downs of life,
What Jesus DOES do is to fill both the ups and downs of life with his presence.
And, the presence of Jesus is the presence of love.

The love of Jesus fills this moment of tragedy as we become Jesus to these hurting, hungry and helpless people.
Our hands become Jesus’ hands as we fill the world with loving service, as we pray, as we collect money, as we donate bottled water, as we sort through used clothing.
For "Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or remove it.
He came to fill it with his presence."

However, I do not want us to leave here today thinking that the Christian life is just a glorified United Way agency.
Christians are not only called to fill the world with the presence of Jesus’ love.
Christians are to live on the edge, fearless in the face of opposition and bold in our proclamation against injustice.
Christians are called to be more than relief workers, we are called to be prophets.

The Gospel reading from Matthew today is a lesson about how we are to live together in community.
In methodical steps, Jesus teaches us how to handle those times when we have a disagreement or a problem with someone else:
First, you are to have a conversation alone, with just you and the person you disagree with.
Second, if that doesn’t work, then you are to bring in a third party.
Third, if that doesn’t work, then you are to bring in the whole congregation.
Then Jesus says that if visiting with them in person doesn’t work, and if bringing in a third party doesn’t work, and if involving the whole church doesn’t work,
Then, your last option is to treat them like a Gentile or a tax collector.

The most common way of interpreting this story is that if you can’t settle an argument with someone using these methods, then the offending person is to be treated like a Gentile or a tax collector and kicked out of the church.
Yet, what does Jesus teach us about Gentiles and tax-collectors?
Jesus teaches us that those on the outside, those who are like criminals, those who are like non-believers, the Gentiles and the tax-collectors, should be treated with EXTRA grace and love, NOT kicked out of the church.

One of the things that has been left largely unsaid as we address the Hurricane Katrina disaster is that many of the victims are the Gentiles and tax-collectors in our society.
When I watch CNN, the people I mainly see are black and poor.
For the sad truth has now been revealed:
The poor of New Orleans were displaced, long before Katrina came.

And, as Christians, we are called to cry out, like all the prophets in the Bible, prophets like Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist.
We are called to cry out, in righteous anger, that this whole disaster has unearthed a giant problem in American society.
We are NOT all equal.
We are not even separate, but equal.
We are not a nation where all are free, but we are a nation STILL enslaved by divisions of skin color and economic advantage.

You have a right to disagree with me, but I bet you that if the Superdome was filled with rich white people, then you would not have seen the horror that we have seen on our TV screens.
And, I get my opinions from sources right here in our own town.
I have overheard people say, referring to the looting they have seen on TV:
"Well, what do you expect?
You know that is what those kinds of people do."
I have overheard people say, commenting on the rescues from rooftops:
"Well, what do you expect?
They told those stupid people to get out."

How are we going to welcome the Gentiles and the tax-collectors that are pouring into our city?
How are we going to treat the poor, the hungry, the black-skinned?
How are we going to feel about our new neighbors come November or December, after they have taken our jobs, guzzled our gas and learned in our schools?

We, as Christians, have the sad opportunity to fill this tragedy with the presence of Jesus’ love.
And, we have the opportunity to be courageous prophets, working against the grain of an unjust social system.

The capacity of the Astrodome was underestimated.
The levees in New Orleans did not hold.
The relief effort has been botched at all levels.

Let’s not blow this opportunity to be real Christians.


Monday, August 23, 2010


Sermon from August 22, 2010
(Pentecost 13 – Year C)
Luke 13: 10-17
St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Waco, Texas

When I was in the first grade, a huge thunderstorm came over our house during the night, swaying the pine trees in our backyard back and forth all night long.
The next morning, after the storm, our backyard was littered with pine branches and needles.
And that next morning, strange sounds began coming from the backyard.
My dad discovered that those sounds were the cries of a baby squirrel, a squirrel who had fallen out of his nest during the storm.

Our family then took this tiny baby squirrel into our care.
My dad called the SPCA to find out how to care for this orphaned animal.
At their suggestion, my dad went to the toy store to buy a doll’s tiny baby bottle with which to feed the squirrel.
My dad built a cage for this squirrel out of lumber and chicken wire.
We used old cloth diapers to create a makeshift nest for our new little pet.
And my brother and I named our pet squirrel: Brownie.

However, as the months passed, Brownie grew quickly from a tiny baby into an adult squirrel.
We moved Brownie’s cage to a place just outside our den window, locating it much like a window box.
We fed our pet squirrel a steady diet of pecans.
My dad would go ahead and pre-crack the pecans because he did not want Brownie to work so hard to get to his dinner.

After several months, my parents decided that we should let Brownie go free.
My parents told my brother and I that it was just not right to keep a squirrel as a pet, cooped up in a cage outside our window.
However, my brother and I protested this decision mightily.
We wanted to keep our little squirrel safe and secure.

Yet on one Saturday morning, despite all our protests - and with all of us watching with tears in our eyes - my father went ahead and opened wide the door to Brownie’s cage.
With bated breath, we waited for Brownie to scamper out and to climb up the nearest pine tree.
However, even with the door wide open, Brownie stayed put in his cage, trembling with fear, not wanting to leave behind the comfortable and familiar.
It seems that Brownie desired comfort and security,
Instead of freedom and release.

On a different Saturday, many years ago, Jesus encounters a woman in a cage.
This woman is not in a cage made of lumber and chicken wire.
But this woman is caged by her physical disability, crippled and unable to stand up straight.
Jesus approaches this woman who has been bent over for 18 long years.
Jesus opens the door of her cage and he says to her:
‘Woman, you are set free from your ailment.’”
And immediately this woman is released from her bondage, she stands up straight and begins to praise God.

Yet the leaders of religion become angry that this woman has been released - and they protest mightily.
The leaders of religion become indignant because Jesus healed this crippled woman on the Sabbath, the holy day of rest.
The leaders of religion invoke an excuse - they use a religious loophole - to try to keep this woman in bondage and in her cage.

You see, it seems that religion often desires comfort and security.
Yet Jesus desires freedom and release.

You and I live in cages that are rather comfortable and secure.
Every day, we are not fed with pre-cracked pecans, but with daily bread.
Every day, we are not tucked away in cloth diaper nests, but in safe homes.
Yet even though we might feel comfortable and secure, we are caged and bent over, crippled by our sins and shortcomings.
And Jesus approaches us, unlocks the cage door and says to us:
“Man, woman, you are set free.”

Yet man-made rules and religious rhetoric constantly bombard us with excuses to keep us in bondage, excuses such as because it is the Sabbath or because it says so in the book of Leviticus or because we have always done it that way.
And in the midst of our desire to never change,
In the midst of our desire to live in gated communities where we will never meet anyone different than ourselves,
Jesus approaches us who are crippled and bent over and says:
“Stand up straight and scamper out of that cage.”
For human nature desires comfort and security.
But Jesus desires freedom and release.

I know people who are caged, caged by beer or wine or liquor.
The cage is actually quite comfortable and secure.
A simple glass of white wine is poured every night, in a comforting ritual.
Another glass with dinner, and then possibly another or maybe a night cap, until most every night is dulled by a nice buzz that makes the next day seem more bearable.
Yet, no matter what the excuses are, this is a life of bondage, crippled by alcohol that is a crutch.
And Jesus ignores these excuses.
He opens up the cage door and says:
“Woman, stand up straight and be set free from your crutches.”

I know people who are caged, caged by intolerance.
The cage is lined with scripture quotations and Christian bumper stickers that speak of love toward all of God’s people.
Yet when someone wants to heal on the Sabbath or when a Roman Catholic puts a big statue of the Virgin Mary in their front yard or when Muslims wish to build a small community center 3000 miles away, then the language of fear replaces the language of love.
For no matter what the excuses are, this is a life of bondage, crippled by a narrow-minded religion that is a poor substitute for a living faith that respects the dignity of every human being.
And Jesus ignores these excuses.
He opens up the cage door and says:
“Man, stand up straight and be set free from intolerance and bigotry.”

I know people who are caged, caged by their past.
The cage is secure and warm because it is familiar and the only place we know.
We use our past as excuses, excuses such as:
I am this way because my parent’s marriage ended in divorce.
Or I am this way because I was bullied in school or because I came from a life of poverty.
Yet even though we might have spent 18 years hunched over, living our lives in the past is a life of bondage.
And Jesus ignores these excuses.
He opens up the cage door and says:
“Woman, stand up straight and be set free from your past.”

Our alcohol, our intolerance, our past can become our crutches.
Our sins can become excuses to stay in our cages.
For we desire comfort and security.
Yet Jesus desires freedom and release.

When I was a boy, my father eventually coaxed our pet squirrel out of the door of his cage and into a life of freedom and release.
Eventually Brownie left his comfortable home filled with pre-cracked pecans and a warm bed of cloth diapers, set free to live high in the pine trees.
And our heavenly Father coaxed his Son out of the door of his tomb and into a life of release, set free to live high in the heavens.

And this morning, Jesus coaxes us out of the door of our cage of comfort and security.
This morning, Jesus approaches us who are crippled and bent over and says:
“You are released from your bondage.
You are truly – set free.”


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Vacation Reading - Lay Encounters of the God Kind

While I was on vacation the last two weeks, I read three books:

1. The Taste of New Wine by Keith Miller - I have always heard about this book and it has been on my shelf for years. Written in the early 1960s, Keith Miller gives us a primer on how a lay person (actually a layman, in a refreshingly non p.c. use of the term "man") encounters God through conversion. His conversion leads to very practical ways of living the Christian journey: in his marriage, his office, his small group Bible study, his church and as an evangelist who shares the Word in word and deed. This book took me back in time on my own spiritual journey, to when the Episcopal Church was rocked by the Holy Spirit in the renewal movement of the 1970s and early 80s. The simplicity of a lay person, converted by an encounter with "new wine," touched me and made me think of the simple ways that the Christian faith is caught, not taught.

2. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel - Susan's book club had read this book and she thought that I would like it more than she did. She was correct. Pi, as a young teenager, has significant encounters with Christianity, Islam and Hinduism in his native country of India. Later, he finds himself shipwrecked, as he tells a fantastical tale of his survival, buoyed by his strange quilt of religious beliefs. I enjoyed the early parts of the book best, especially his personal encounters with God. Once again, these lay encounters taught me that religion is always about personal encounter.

3. Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott - this is another book, written in 1999, that has been on my shelf. I have read different chapters of the book at various times, but never read the entire book. Anne is a hippy from the 60s who has recovered from drugs, depression and divorce - and she mixes theological and earthy language together in a very approachable way. Once again, it was a God-encounter at a tiny Presbyterian church in California, lived out in a diverse Body of Christ, that made the Christian faith and life real for her. Her stories of real faith, lived out in a real world, with real encounters of the living God, testify to me that it is the laity who are the backbone of the Body.

My summer vacation of reading was diverse - yet did seem to have a common thread, in my mind. As Anne Lamott quotes Martin Buber:
"All actual life is encounter."

Monday, August 2, 2010

August Renewal

Every August when I was a kid, my mother and grandfather took my brother and I school shopping. Granddad was always interested in making sure that our pants fit correctly and were long enough; he did not want to see his grandsons in “high water” jeans. My mom bought our school supplies and she always gave me and my brother an option to buy a brand new lunch box.

In accordance with our different personalities, my brother and I always responded differently to the invitation for a new lunch box. My brother wanted to keep his old lunch box; I think he carried the same lunch box all throughout elementary school. I, however, always wanted a new lunch box each school year, depending on what was “in” that year. Therefore, my mom bought me a Hot Wheels lunch box one fall, and a H.R. Pufnstuf lunch box one fall, and a Charlie Brown lunch box another fall. Each August, I accepted the invitation for the renewal of my lunch box.

Each August at St. Alban’s, we are given an invitation for the renewal of our faith, as it is lived out in this special community.

We are invited to the renewal of our faith as we return to regular and faithful worship on Sunday mornings. We are invited to sing in your choir; we are invited to join in Bible studies; we are invited into women’s fellowship and men’s breakfast and a youthful tubing trip down the Comal River and a new young adult community that is forming. We are invited to fill backpacks with school supplies for children at Cedar Ridge Elementary School; we are invited to meet new friends while cleaning or weeding around our church buildings. We are invited to lead children’s chapel; we are invited to gather in homes for a dinner for 8 at 7. We are invited to transformation and renewal.

Almost 2,000 years ago, the Apostle Paul also invited us, writing in his Letter to the Romans: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind (12:2).”

Each August at St. Alban’s, we renew our minds and our schedules and our priorities. With openness to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, our hearts are transformed to love, as we re-engage our faith and renew our minds.

This fall, you might not need a new lunch box. But, please, accept the invitation to renewal.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

How'd You Get So Rich?

Sermon from August 1, 2010
(Pentecost 10 – Year C)
Luke 12: 13-21
St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Waco, Texas

So, how’d you get so rich?

This is the question that the comedian, Joan Rivers, asks on her reality show.
Joan Rivers’ reality show debuted on TV just last August (as if we really needed another reality show).
This show, hosted by Joan Rivers, is titled:
“How’d You Get So Rich?”

In this reality TV show, Joan Rivers, who is the princess of Hollywood gossip and the queen of multiple facelifts, travels around the country, interviewing self-made millionaires and billionaires.
On the TV show, as Joan Rivers meets each one of these multi-millionaires, she asks each one of them her trademark question:
How’d you get so rich?

Now, I reluctantly confess to you that, in my late night channel surfing, I have seen portions of this show called, “How’d You Get So Rich?”
It is one of those TV shows that you know you should not like, but you just cannot take your eyes off of the obscene excess.

For example, in one episode, Joan Rivers interviews a man who invented a unique bubble-blowing machine.
This man now lives in a mansion so big that his dog has a walk-in closet and the dog has his own private chef.
In another episode of this reality TV show, Joan interviews an advertising executive who, at the age of 40, now lives in a castle with a multi-million dollar art collection.

In another episode, Joan interviews someone who is so rich that she spends one million dollars a year - just on her clothing.

In their 50-foot yachts and in their Hummers and in their walk-in closets that are the size of many of our homes, Joan Rivers asks these millionaires this same question:
How’d you get so rich?

Jesus is approached by someone in the crowd, who yells out:
“Hey, teacher,
Tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.”
But Jesus replies:
“Be on guard against all kinds of greed;
For one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”
Then Jesus tells us a story:

Once upon a time, there was a farmer.
The farmer produced amazingly abundant crops.
Even in this lousy stock market, his portfolio has gone through the roof.
The farmer has become so rich and famous that he decides to tear down his old barns and build even bigger barns to hold his grain.
He decides to build giant barns to hold all his stuff.

The next thing you know, Joan Rivers pulls up in her souped-up Escalde.
She gets out of the car in her Ferragamo pumps and pokes the farmer in the chest, asking:
How’d you get so rich?

The farmer then tells Joan his rags-to-riches story.
The farmer tells Joan about how he is a self-made man.
The farmer tells Joan about all the treasures he has stored up for himself.

After Joan River’s camera crew has left the scene, the farmer kicks back and says to himself:
“Self, I have done good.
I have worked hard.
I have given my children the best I can.
I have saved for my retirement in a moderately conservative lifestyle fund.
I have prepared myself for the good life.
Now, I can relax in my easy chair with my remote control, open a cold beer and eat pizza in my boxer shorts.”

Yet then God bellows out to the farmer:
“You fool!
This very night your life is demanded of you.”

We can picture the farmer the next morning:
Slumped over dead in his easy chair, the remote control still in his hand, the box of cold pizza crusts sitting on the footstool,
Surrounded by his new big barn full of grain in giant walk-in closets.
But the farmer is dead.

For the very same night that the farmer was interviewed by Joan Rivers for the show “How’d You Get So Rich?” -
That very same night, his very life was demanded of him.

So it is with those who fill their barns with Self, and not with God.
So it is with those who acquire and spend, but do not pray and give.
So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves, but are not rich toward God.

In my own life, I have known some people who are rich toward God.

The people I know who are rich toward God are not as concerned about acquiring things.
But the people who are rich toward God are more concerned about making meaningful friendships.

The people I know who are rich toward God are not as interested in spending time at the shopping mall or on eBay or collecting Nike shoes.
But the people who are rich toward God are more interested in spending time getting to know God in prayer.

The people I know who are rich toward God do not try to grasp possessions into clinched fists.
But the people who are rich toward God give, and give, and give again, with open hands.

God does not care about acquiring things.
But God cares about giving.
God cares about people.

In 1930, 80 years ago, the famous preacher of Riverside Church in New York City, Harry Emerson Fosdick, wrote the words to one of my favorite hymns.
Fosdick wrote the hymn, “God of Grace and God of Glory.”
In that hymn, we sing this:

“Shame our wanton selfish gladness,
Rich in things and poor in soul.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage.
Lest we miss thy kingdom’s goal
Lest we miss thy kingdom’s goal.”

This very night, my very life could be demanded of me.
This very night, your very life could be demanded of you.
And on that night, I do not want us to sing that we are rich in things, yet poor in soul.
I do not want us to miss God’s kingdom’s goal.

For on my last day, I hope that Joan Rivers will not appear at my front door to interview me about my wanton selfish gladness.
I do not want to give her a tour of the treasures I have stored up for myself.

But on the night that my life is demanded of me, I hope that I will know Jesus richly –
Because I have known him in a meaningful friendship, fostered by a lifetime of prayer.
On the night that my life is demanded of me, I hope that I will have richly given to others –
Given much more than I have received.

On the night that my life is demanded of me, I hope that I will be so rich toward God, so rich with love,
So that Jesus will poke me in the chest and ask:

How’d you get so rich?