Worship Service – July 31, 2022

Scriptures; Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14 2:17-26,Luke


and Colossians 3:1-11.

Message; “It’s just Stuff.”

Ecclesiastes 1:2,12-14. 2:17-26

(2) “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

Wisdom is Meaningless


(12) I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. (13) I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! (14) I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Toil is Meaningless 2:17-26

(2:17) So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. (18) I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. (19) And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. (20) So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. (21) For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. (22) What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? (23) All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless.
(24) A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, (25) for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? (26) To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.



The Parable of the Rich Fool

(13) Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
(14) Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” (15) Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
(16) And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. (17) He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
(18) “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. (19) And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘
(20) “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
(21) “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Colossians 3:1-11

Rules for Holy Living

(1) Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. (2) Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (3) For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (4) When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
(5) Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (6) Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. (7) You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. (8) But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (9) Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices (10) and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (11) Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

This is the word of God, for the people of God. Thanks be to God.

Two weeks ago, before I went on vacation the title of my message was,”The Hope Stored Up.” I concluded it by telling you the philosophy of life we should hold , as Christians, was the mindset of the Good Samaritan. To have the mindset of “what’s mine is yours and I’ll share it”, and that we are too take the advice of Jesus to “Go and do likewise.”(Luke 10:37). This week the scriptures we read, remind us that greed can keep us from the mindset of the Good Samaritan because, we forget, ”It’s just Stuff”.
It’s everywhere you look, there’s stuff. Especially this time of the year you see it at yard sales, garage sales, to trunk sales and flea markets, to dumpsters, to folks riffling through your trash to find something of value … and if they’re lucky, something with your social security number on it. Stuff is everywhere.
Don’t get me wrong. I love stuff. By most measures I have too much of it. When Bonne wants to drag me to a yard sale the only reason I would go is the fact that I want to support and be with her. But standing there, looking at other people’s stuff that, by the pure fact of it lying there on a dew-soaked blanket in someone’s front yard showed that it was stuff they didn’t want anymore, just isn’t my idea of having fun.
But in the interest of full disclosure, there are times when Bonne drags me along to one of these yard sales or the like, or shows me something on marketplace on her iPhone, that I just can’t live without, and I ended up buying it, and even enjoyed the experience. But to be perfectly honest, I like many of you already have way to much stuff.
I’d love to de-clutter our house, garage, and basement, but that would mean getting rid of stuff. There are times when I thought it would be simpler to build another barn in the backyard and move some of it there. But barns cost more than you can imagine. Still, it might be worth it. I would just have to prioritize what stuff we needed to be close to in case we needed it and what other things we could put in the barn marked with the name of one of our children we’re storing it for.
I’ve even thought about renting one of those storage garages that dot our communities? Obviously I’m not the only one with too much stuff. Using one of these would have the added benefit of allowing us visitation rights 24 hours a day without having the stuff underfoot every day.
We’ll know I feel better. Just fessing up to my hoarding feels better. Maybe that’s what Solomon felt as he wrote in Ecclesiastes, “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Eccl.1:2). “Meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Eccl.1:14). I’m sure Solomon had way more stuff than I, and he came to the point in his life where he understood that he couldn’t take it with him to the next. All the wisdom he had acquired, all he had worked for was just stuff… that would be left to someone else. He came to the realization of that he was “chasing after the wind”. The sin of greed was recognized in his life and all he acquired was just stuff.
In the parable of the rich fool, Jesus tells this parable to warn us about greed. Saying, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). Realizing that “It’s just Stuff” makes me go just a little bit easier on the rich man who finds himself with a bountiful harvest and wants to keep every last kernel of grain. But let’s be clear … just because I can identify with him doesn’t mean that I think he and I have the right idea. As you can probably tell, I feel guilty about keeping all my stuff and not sharing it with those in need.
There is an old story, a legend about two brothers who inherited the fam­ily farm. They also inherited the core value that, within the family, everyone must be treated with absolute equality. One brother was single and the other was married with three children.
As the story goes, there were two houses on the farm, so each brother got one. There were two large barns and two smaller barns and the brothers got one of each. The animals were divided equally and when there was an odd number they had a cookout in which they, of course, equally shared down to the last morsel. The land was divided equally as well, acre by acre, pasture by pasture.
Some thought these brothers were taking this fairness thing to extremes because every evening they would make certain that the animals were back to whichever brother they belonged and any grain left over was divided into sacks and taken to each one’s gra­nary. Absolutely everything was divided equally, just as their fa­ther had wanted it.
This worked just fine until one day when the younger brother began to think about this arrangement. “This is not fair … not fair at all. We must change this arrangement. My brother has a wife and three children while I am single. He has more mouths to feed than I. Ah! I know what I will do.” And that evening, under cover of darkness, the younger brother took a sack of grain from his own granary and took it to his brother’s granary and left it there. He continued to do this every night thereafter.
That same day the older brother thought to himself, “This is not fair .. not fair at all. We must change this arrangement. My brother is single while I have a wife and three children. They will take care of me when I am old and can no longer work on the farm while my brother will have no one to care for him. Ah! I know what I will do.” And that evening, under cover of darkness, the older brother took a sack of grain from his granary and took it to his brother’s. He continued to do this night after night.
One very, very dark night, as the story goes, when each of them was moving grain from their granary to the other’s they smacked into each other. When they recovered and realized what the other had been doing, they embraced in a brotherly embrace and, I’m told, they continued their practice until the day when they were too old to carry the sacks of grain anymore. To this day, their children and their children’s children, and even their children carry sacks of grain each day to help them remember and honor the un­selfishness of their ancestors.
As the legend goes, the spot where they met, where they col­lided with each other that dark, dark night, was the very spot that God declared that his temple would be built. For nowhere, on the entire earth was there a place where a better example of unselfish, brotherly love could be found than there.
How different from the parable of Jesus! It is so different that, at first, it is tough to get our minds around it. We’ve all known unselfish people, but the degree to which these two brothers loved each other and only wanted what was best for each other goes far beyond simple unselfishness. It’s much easier to imagine the rich man stuffing his new barns full of excess grain than someone freely giving it away to another.
Greed, on the other hand, is something we understand pretty well. All one has to do is turn on the television when the Power Ball jackpot reaches some obscene amount of money and listen to the interviews of people saying what they will do if they hit the big one. We’ve heard plenty of these and I won’t say that it’s never happened, but I don’t remember anyone saying that they were go­ing to tithe their winnings to their church or some charity. You can almost hear them thinking, I want it all and I want it now. Greed of that magnitude, I understand.
Of course it doesn’t always happen, but I’ve heard enough sto­ries about people who win the lottery and end up within a few years in what my parents would have called the “poor house.” Most, it seems, take trips, buy motor homes or motorcycles, quit their jobs, build bigger barns for their stuff, and hide from long-lost dis­tant relatives scheming for a slice of the pie until there are no more slices for anyone.
There are the stories about groups of factory workers who to­gether buy a number of tickets each week and one day hit the big one. I’ve never seen it fail that there was at least one person who bought into the pool every single week except that one. Friends who once dreamed their water cooler dreams become, the day of the big drawing, bitter enemies as one of their own threatens to sue because the group should have known that they would have paid their share of the ticket. Those fights aren’t pretty. Yes, greed like that I understand, sadly, because I’ve seen more examples of it than ones like the two brothers in the first story.
Those who want it all and want it now are like the rich man in Jesus’ parable who receives a more abundant crop than normal and instead of finding a way to give a portion of it away, pulls down his barns, builds larger ones, and stores the grain and everything he owns there. Then he sits back to relax, eat, drink, and be merry not knowing that tomorrow he will die. He refuses to believe that greed is rearing its head. He refuses to recognize that, “It’s just Stuff”.
Before we get too high and mighty and smug about how we would behave if we received a more than abundant crop, let’s be honest with ourselves. Would you or I, regardless of what we might say to a television reporter while in the line to buy a lottery ticket, really think, in our heart of hearts, We’d give our abundant harvest away?
Are we ever satisfied with what we have, or do we constantly strive for more and more? It doesn’t help that a recent news item told us that we would need at least a half million dollars if we want to retire comfortably. I wonder what message that sends to the poorest of the poor in our country.
Too many in our churches, too many Christians today forget what Paul taught the believers in Colossians 3:2-4. The Rules for Holy Living. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (3) For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (4) When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Our parable today asks us to think about our stuff in two ways: How much stuff do we really need and when we have excess stuff why not give it away? I ask you, after asking myself first, how much stuff do you really need and what do you intend to do with the stuff you don’t? When you have a more abundant “crop” than you expected; a good year, a bonus, do you first rearrange your portfolio and build new barns with CDs, mutual funds, and stocks, or do you thank God from whom all good things come and give, if even just a little bit, to those whose crops have failed while yours flourished?
Remember the words of Jesus. “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” “It’s just Stuff!” Amen?
In His Service,
Pastor Joe
Listen To Audio: Sermon 20220731
  Often we show up for worship expecting to be entertained.   Instead, may we be active participants in worship today, focusing on kindness, love, and our sacred worth in God.  Come, let us worship God!  

Call to Worship:

L:  Give thanks to God!  For God is good.
P:  We give thanks for God’s steadfast love.

L:  Give thanks to God!  For God’s love endures.
P:  We give thanks that God is at work among humankind.

L:  Give thanks to God!  For only God can satisfy us.
P:  We give thanks to God for filling our spiritual hunger with good things.


Prayer of Confession:   God of Healing, remind us of the connection our souls have to you.  You tug at our cords to remind us that we also need the kindness of other humans.  You pluck at our heartstrings to remind us of the love you’ve placed within each of us.  But we still become distracted.  We get lost in our aggravations, disappointments, and deep-seated longings.  Sometimes, it seems as though the negativity and sadness will swallow us whole.  How are we to turn this pain into love and kindness?  May we do the same, trusting that the Holy One is in our midst.  Through Christ we pray. Amen.



Pastor Joe will be available at the church on Thursday Morning from 9:00 to 11:00.  If you need to speak to him, contact Pastor Joe at 570-267-4570 (cell) or Email: joe.s.travis@gmail.com

Loose change goes to Trehab Local Food Bank.

No Sunday School until August 7th.

Social Hour following church on August 7th

Presbyterian Women will meet on Thursday, August 11th at 11 A.M.

Session will meet Wednesday, August 17, at 4:30

Men’s Breakfast Wednesday August 17th at 8:00

Please sign up to host one of the social hours on the Sunday after Communion Service on the first Sunday of the month.  Hosting only means setting out what is brought and cleaning up afterward.  It does not mean bringing everything to share.

We are looking for “Message in Music” for the summer months.

Choir members and those interested in joining, our first practice will be Thursday, September 1 at 1 o’clock at the church.  Please consider joining us in singing God’s praises!  We will begin singing during the church service on Sunday, October 2nd.


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