The last few years have brought us big lessons – as a nation, a city, a parish and as individuals. One of the most intense lessons, as spiritual traditions the world over have taught us over and over again, is that all things can and will change no matter how we plan for the future. We have tricked ourselves into thinking that we can protect ourselves against the future. Some of us shore up our sense of certainty through storing up money and possessions. Some of us build walls around ourselves against those who disagree with us.
I grew up on a farm, where we had physical silos for grains to protect ourselves and our animals during the rich harvest times against the less abundant times of winter. These silos meant we felt safe from the pressures of non-abundant times ahead. This is practical, of course. But we silo ourselves literally and metaphorically.
What I’m thinking about is how Jesus, speaking to farmers in our text in Luke 12 this week, uses a familiar structure (silos) to speak of a spiritual challenge: what tools we use to protect ourselves against the inevitable.
What does he say? “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” He speaks to overabundance, saving up more than we need and then relying on that to salve our anxiety about the future. What I notice is that he challenges the idea that we can control the future this way. That he says, if you’re storing up treasure on earth, your attention is on yourself, rather than on God’s provision. You are choosing security over trust.
A way to re-state his parable in our time might be, ‘Be careful what you practice. You might get really good at the wrong thing.’
I notice that there is one kind of abundance Jesus never criticizes: gathering an abundance of relationships. There are never too many of those for the Kin-dom of God. We will never fail the Divine Experiment if we store up energy and investment in relationships now. These cannot be lost, never rust or rot, and build a future we can rely on.
What treasure are you storing up now to assuage your anxiety about the future? And what new treasures, like community, relationship, and faith, can you begin to build an overabundance of instead?