February 20, 2018

By Rev. George C. Hooper, Church of the Good Shepherd (Arcadia), East District

Proverbs 23:4-5

Do not wear yourself out to get rich; be wise enough to desist. When your eyes light upon it, it is gone; for suddenly it takes wings to itself, flying like an eagle towards heaven.

On the evening when I was introduced to the SPRC of the congregation I now serve, my predecessor invited me to tour the parsonage. This wise and loving man had served the congregation for two decades, and had raised children in the house my family would now occupy.

“You need to know now about the biggest problem your family will face,” he told me, “and you will have to deal with it right away: your kids will never be able to have all the things their classmates have. It isn’t that you will be poor. It is just that there is no way they – or you — will ever be able to keep up. Don’t kill yourself trying.” I appreciated his honest warning, and I am so happy that we have been able to take his advice (in this and many things!).

Commercialism and acquisitiveness are twin epidemics in our culture. We strive after symbols of success and tire of them just as soon as we acquire them. “What’s next?” is so often our cry, and we burn ourselves out to gain more, more, ever more. After a while it isn’t even so much about the symbols, objects, and possessions as it is about the getting. The words of the proverb remind us that the thing we want most in any given moment, whatever our flitting eyes light upon, is often itself ephemeral, flying off as if on wings of eagles.

The apostle Paul would have us strive, alright, but to eagerly seek after the greater gifts of God, and beyond that to the still more excellent way of love. (1 Corinthians 12:31)

And, the preacher of Ecclesiastes turns the way of the world on its head: “To eat, and drink, and find satisfaction in all one’s toil — this is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 3:13)

Prayer: Creator of the universe and giver of all good gifts, guide us in your way; when we would toil away for that which does not satisfy, remind us of the deep satisfaction found in our daily work; when we would lose ourselves in getting more, help us find ourselves in what we already and always have: your gifts of life, and love, and relationship. Amen.