10/20/2019: Looking Back

Posted by on Dec 5, 2019 in Sunday Message | Comments Off on 10/20/2019: Looking Back

Season 19 th Sunday after Pentecost
Date 10202019
Scripture Matthew 22:15-22
Prayer May the words of my mouth be pleasing to you, God.
May our hearts and our minds be wise as we enter into a season
of openness and love. AMEN

Week 1: “Looking Back”

Money, the financial systems that surround us, are much like the
East African Legend of King Sulemani and the whale:
This fish was bigger even than any whale we know – as
big as a mountain! – and it had an equally enormous
appetite: it ate and ate and ate until it had eaten all of
the food in the kingdom. Then, it roared at the kind for
more!
These kinds of myths about giant fish or whale that devours entire
kingdoms, are exactly that, myths. Yet the myth is good, a
reasonable way of thinking about our own existence within a giant
financial system that in many ways holds us captive, if it is only in
our desire to not think about it too much. For some it creates
anxiety, worry, stress, confusion, and sometimes joy. It seems to
morph in complexity and lack of transparency.
And while we talk about almost everything else, we rarely talk
about money. Yet it squeezes its way into every aspect of our
lives: education, politics, religion, food, health, entertainment, art.
A fine example of this was the 2016 US election in which a
billionaire businessman and reality TV star with no experience
became the leader of the free world. In the words of Maggie
Kulyk, “Money doesn’t talk, it shouts.”

Anxiety around money has been always been a part of my life.
Mostly because my family was always careful with money. We
lived with a sense of scarcity. On grocery trips, I remember
messages that certain foods, like cereal and meat were too
expensive. I was taught to carefully manage my allowance,
including giving 10% of it to the church.
I tell you these stories because I think they might resonate with
you. The anxiety when money is tight, the good intentions of
budgeting and the challenges it presents, the competing stressors
of paying taxes, and even contributing to the church, all swim
around us in the giant financial system in which we live.
So how does this connect with the spiritual world, the world in
which we also reside, a place we are also responsible for
cultivating, nourishing and growing? We cultivate spiritual
practice using prayer, meditation, community worship.
When the Pharisees try to trick Jesus in a question about money,
his answer puts money in perspective, but it is complex. The
people in Jesus’ day live within the oppressor’s systems of money
and the Romans have the power to take it. But throughout Jesus’
ministry, he indicates that ALL things are within the realm of God.
Even the decisions made about what to do with money have
spiritual implications. We, too, exist in a time when we live inside
of a system of money that is not always just or fair or equitable.
And yet, how we live within that system is a matter of spirituality
and faith formation because it affects our sense of call to do as
much good in the world as we can.
So, what would it look like to add money to our spiritual practice?
And why would we even want to do that?
First, it is important to name the power and the influence the
system has over us, so we can work to alter the influence it has

on our lives, our anxiety, and our stress. It helps us to live in a
more healthy, balanced life, physically and emotionally.
Being honest about our financial experience can be painful. I
admit mine has been. But it also allows us to be at peace with
our own lives and our money. But there is more. When we
ignore the power of money in our lives, it feeds that power.
Through spiritual practice, we can learn to relate to the world in a
broader, more meaningful and healing way. While it is impossible
to live outside our money systems, it is possible to change our
hearts. When our hearts change, the heart of the system
changes too.
So, how do I start? Take a piece of paper and a pencil, sit quietly
in your living room, and try to remember your first memory about
money. Write it down. From that point, write down every memory
you can recall about money. Having it, not having it, pressure to
make it, spend it. What were the thoughts you had at the time?
What do you think about those things now?
Take a few hours and watch the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” with
Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. You can find it almost
anywhere online to watch. It is a real classic. As you are
watching the film, consider the characters. Who do you most
relate to?
Uncle Billy, Ma Bailey, Sam Wainwright, George Bailey, Mr
Potter, Clarence or Mary Bailey.
If sitting still, or watching a movie, are not your style, try this:
Go on a walk with money. Yes, that’s what I said. You don’t have
to put it on a leash, it will stay with you.
Don’t try to overanalyze your thoughts about this process. Hold it
lightly.

As you walk look at the nature around you, the smells, the
textures, the sounds. But be aware that money is with you and
what sensations this traveler brings with you. If certain thoughts
or emotions surface, be aware of them, but don’t linger with them.
Feel free to talk with money as you walk, you can give it a name.
See what you have to say to money and how it responds.
Try to spend at least 20 minutes on this walk. If it helps make
some notes when you get home. The point is to recognize the
natural and physical way money affects the way you walk through
life. It may also allow those aspects of your relationship with
money that are usually hidden in the shadows to surface.
Most importantly, this week, as you look back and consider your
relationship with money, don’t be afraid or critical of yourself, your
family, or other influences. Just observe them. Try to make
sense of how they make you feel. Next week we’ll take the next
step of looking in.
Pray this week. Love this week. Listen this week. Look this
week.
In the name of Christ. AMEN.