Reflection September 8, 2019 by Rev Sunny
Jeremiah 2:4-130/ Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16/ Luke 14:1, 7-14
You Are Enough, We Are Enough
Today’s one fact about myself is not new to a lot of you, but I am a piano student; I am training in classical piano, which I started last year with a teacher who was a member of my congregation in Kimberley. One of the pieces I am currently practising is of a French composer named Erik Satie, and some of his greatest pieces were influenced by minimalism. Are you familiar with minimalism? In music, minimalists believe that we don’t need many notes for the piece to be beautiful. Listen to the piece I am currently practising. (Satie’s Gymnopedie No. 1) This is one of the good examples of a musical piece with minimal notes being strikingly beautiful. No, I didn’t choose it because it had few notes; but it helped.
Speaking of minimalism, are you familiar with a reality show called Tidying Up with Marie Kondo? In this show, Marie helps people reduce their clutter, downsize, and organize their homes. It’s easy to relate to these people receiving help from Marie because I, like a lot of people, own too much. When we organize our things and try to downsize, Marie’s method asks if something sparks joy for us. If it doesn’t spark joy, we should get rid of it. I am hoping to use her advice to organize my clutter, which gives me headache since I moved from a basement house to a no-basement house.
Anyway, in today’s gospel text, Jesus tells his followers to understand the cost of discipleship before following him. He says a lot of things here, but the essence is that we should abandon our obsession to this mortal world. Those who are too attached to their family, material possession, or anything else in their lives are not fit for God’s kingdom. He said his followers should hate their family and abandon all their possessions, which we should not take literally. It was more literal to his immediate followers 2000 years ago, but that’s because they believed that the end was imminent. We don’t live with their sense of urgency, and only those who join radical cults that teach the end is imminent abandon their families and possessions. But since we need our families, friends, a place to live, and so on, we should understand from this teaching that we should not let ourselves be too attached to anything that belongs to this mortal world. We need a bit of minimalism in our lives. We need to simplify our lives.
I was thinking of why we might be obsessed with anything. Some of us are workaholics, some of us are shopaholics, some of us are addicted to legal or illegal substances. I once had a boyfriend who grew up poor, and now even with a large income, he is constantly in debt. He spends money like it’s a revenge to his past poverty. We might binge eat or shop because we are not happy with our lives. We might try to fill the void inside us with food, substances, or material possessions. Then we can also understand that the solution to being obsessed with these things might be to fill the void inside us with emotional and spiritual fulfillment. Listen to what the Psalmist says in Psalm 139 about our relationship with God. God has searched us and knows us through and through. God made us, and we are fearfully and wonderfully made. If we are aware of this and maintain a loving and intimate relationship with God, we might be able to confess, “I don’t need all these material things because my God, you are enough for me. Your grace and love are enough to satisfy me.” We can confess this because our Creator tells us we are wonderfully made, that we are good and worthy enough, no matter what people in the world think. This knowledge of God’s relationship with us should help us to love and value ourselves. Who are we to say we are not good enough when our Creator said we are fearfully and wonderfully made?
As God’s beloved children, we shouldn’t think about our worth or worry about mundane things; but instead trust God and seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness. God will shape us into lovers and warriors of justice and equality like a potter shapes clay into whatever vessels he or she needs.
There is spiritual value in minimalism. During Lent, for example, the traditional church teaches us to fast, pray, and give to charity as a part of our Lenten spiritual practice. The virtue of fasting lies in emptying our body and preserving mental energy to better focus on God. Do you experience feeling tired and drowsy after eating a big meal? That’s because digestion requires a lot of energy. By fasting, we can use that energy to focus on God. The virtue of giving to charity lies in reminding ourselves that we have more than enough to live, and there are others who don’t have enough. We can share our possession and be thankful for what we have.
Today is the first Sunday of the Creation Time. Starting from today until Thanksgiving Sunday, we will reflect on God’s beautiful creation that includes God’s wonderfully made people. We learned from Genesis chapter 1 that God commanded humans to care for all of God’s creation. Today, we reflect on God’s creation from the perspective of minimalism. Our greed resulted in harming Mother Earth. Our desire to own more and better things resulted in the amount of garbage that we cannot handle. Minimalist musicians create music with few notes. Minimalist eco-warriors consume little and produce little garbage. Let us begin our responsibility as the carers of God’s creation by simplifying our lives. Let us reconsider our material possessions. Whatever doesn’t spark joy in our heart has to go. Jesus told us to abandon our possession to follow him. Let us abandon greed and find joy in simple and non-material things. Let us maintain a loving and intimate relationship with God, who created us wonderfully and calls us worthy. Let God’s love fill us so that we don’t become obsessed with material possessions, and that we can confess, “God, you are enough for me.” With our faith in God’s love, instead of obsessing with material things, let us use our time and energy bringing God’s reign on earth with our service to God’s wonderfully made people and our only home, Mother Earth.