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I think I understand the man in the first part of our story who went away grieved when Jesus told him to sell all of his possessions because he had a lot of them. I might have a lot of possessions. When faced with the difficulty of moving books I will buy more boxes. When Kelly tells me I have a lot of craft supplies I will buy more boxes. Do I like my stuff more than I love Kelly no but I will find a way to have it all.

The late great George Carlin had something to say about stuff.

I would have been out here a little bit sooner……but they gave me the wrong dressing room……and I couldn’t find any place to put my stuff. And I don’t know how you are……but I need a place to put my stuff. So, that’s what I’ve been doing back there just trying to find a place for my stuff. You know how important that is, that’s the whole…that’s the whole meaning of life, isn’t it? Trying to find a place for your stuff.

That’s all your house is…your house is just a place for your stuff. If you didn’t have so much *** stuff you wouldn’t need a house. You could just walk around all the time. That’s all your house is, it’s a pile of stuff with a cover on it. You see that when you take off in an airplane and you look down and you see everybody’s got a little pile of stuff.

Everybody’s got their own pile of stuff. And when you leave your stuff, you gotta lock it up. Wouldn’t want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff. They always take the good stuff. They don’t bother with that crap you’re saving. Ain’t nobody interested in your fourth grade arithmetic papers. They’re looking for the good stuff. That’s all your house is, it’s a place to keep your stuff…while you go out and get more stuff.

And all of that was before the stuff would just come to your front door like magic because you didn’t even have to leave your house in second guess if it was something that you needed.

Seems like this man who came to Jesus was looking for something but I don’t know if it was an honest answer. I wonder if when Jesus said well do you follow the laws and he said yes he was convinced the next things out of Jesus’ mouth we’re going to be telling him and praising him for having done all that he needed to do and to carry on. The man wanted an answer to what it would take to inherit eternal life what he needed to do to earn an inheritance the thing you just get because and Jesus answered the question by telling the man about the kingdom or the Empire of God. I think it’s kind of fair to assume the man is talking about a life beyond this one and Jesus is talking about the Kingdom Here and Now on this Earth.

The man had been living a life of self-sufficiency. He had been given the law the things that he ought to do and not do and he successfully checked those off the list every day today was another day in which he did not murder someone and that was important. We did not find out that he was a person of means until he gets his answer from Jesus and we find out he has a lot of stuff possessions.

And when Jesus says that the way to live and to the kingdom the Empire of God is to sell everything you have and give it to the poor it Grieves him, he goes away grieving. He was so certain he was going to get the positive answer and he found out he was still so far away.

And I wonder how hard he worked, what he did to accumulate these possessions. I wonder if he saw the things he had as what he needed or whether they were bonus items as things that he worked for and he earned and they were the blessings that he received.

Self-sufficient, he could move the world in the way in which the world expected him to do so. He could check the things off the list that he did or did not do according to the law and he had all he needed to get through every day. Perhaps as George Carlin observed it had become his life’s purpose caring for his stuff.

It is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle and a rich man to be part of the kingdom of god. And I don’t think it’s because he’s rich because at the end of this section Jesus talks about losing one’s family and tenfold the family just maybe not one of blood.

So can’t just be about giving up money or possessions

Because some romanticized idea of living with less. the tiny home movement where one can have a whole house, with all their needs and wants in the space the size of a shed. I mean they’re kind of cool there are hidden little cupboards everywhere and tiny little versions of things like sinks and stoves. Folks make videos about how they are making their very own tiny home, the amount of money they are spending or saving in the process, the things that they are letting go of and the small quantity of items they have chosen to keep with them.

And that’s usually where the narrative ends. When it’s the Young cool kids building small homes instead of homes being built to alleviate homelessness which is a different story that is where the story ends most of the time. They have built their home with everything they need on their own a tiny home, they’ve given up so much but is it enough.

Because I think that’s it I think it’s the idea of self-sufficiency the extreme individuality that says I did this on my own, I got here without anyone else I am self made. And then saying I don’t need anyone, having no place in community living as if you’re isolated.

And I think it’s created a system a world in which people have become more isolated and more alone because I don’t think they’re supposed to need anyone.

But we’re here we’re loving people we’re doing okay someone should come Pat us on our back.

So if it isn’t about possessions maybe it’s about the self, an attitude, a way of living.

It is easier for a bear to get through the eye of a needle then for a self-sufficient person to really be part of the Beloved Community.

Because selling everything he had and following Jesus would leave him vulnerable. It would drop him immediately into the Beloved Community but what if he’s afraid it’s not there.? What if it’s not everything he hoped it would be? What if it’s not there at all.

Because being open and honest letting down one’s defenses, removing the things that keep us from fully engaging community that makes it so we don’t need anyone else, whether it is a possessions or money secrets health or mental illness or addiction or a past we can’t get over is scary.

Jesus is asking this man to run full speed at the pillar at 9 and 3/4 and Trust that he will make it through and find Beloved Community on the other side one in which they will care for each other and support each other and honor each other and make sure no one goes without. And I’m sure he’s scared, because too many people have done that metaphorical run into vulnerability and just crashed, found no support.

And here’s the thing that I think is hard for us we know that Community is important and that giving is important and that caring for the poor is important. We are not good at asking for help. But being in community means letting down defenses, letting go of what keeps us thinking and feeling like we have made it on our own.

Any kind of love, and living in community will make you vulnerable. It will put you in situations and places that you wouldn’t expect, it will ask you to be open to change your mind, to change yourself, that this community will not be the same, and that’s the point.

And then this community becomes a place where anyone can be honest and broken, lonely and struggling, lost and uncertain, where we, where anyone can run into with cautious hope and find beloved community, home, find family, find welcome and love, find what they need.

I think Jesus meant it when he told the man to sell all his possessions. I think that Jesus knew, as we learn and grow, that possessions root us, reveal where our heart is, they can keep us from being truly in community with those who are different from us, can keep us from fully following the traveling teacher, Jesus into the unknown. George Carlin said, our purpose in life can become our stuff. Our possessions reveal what we feel is most important, and when we cling to them, instead of surrendering completely, we will, for often really good reasons–like family and safety and the bitter cold–compromise the vision of the kingdom of God that Jesus is calling us into–our true calling and purpose.

I think, Jesus really is calling us into a community that lives in mutuality, in shared resources, in everyone having enough and no more, on a reliance of each other. And some days that seems amazing and I want to be in a collective living community because it doesn’t make any sense that everyone on my block has their own lawn mower when our yards are the size of a bathroom. And some days I wonder if I could give up control of my space and my things, most days I know I can’t.

But the man was doing the best he could and couldn’t in that moment take that step Jesus called him to, and Jesus still looked at him in love. Every day we can try our best to live into the kingdom, into the way of life that Jesus is calling us to, and we probably won’t get to see it in perfection, but we can keep trying, keep being open to new people, new ideas, and be open to letting go of some of the control of our lives we have so carefully crafted, let ourselves be a little vulnerable, a little uncomfortable, and find grace in each other.

And we don’t know what happened to man. He went away grieved but maybe he came back the next day, or the next month, or joined the community years later. Just because he walked away in that moment doesn’t mean he didn’t come back. Just because he might have been the last one in line to the kingdom living, doesn’t mean he didn’t make it, doesn’t make him the least. Both Peter–self-proclaimed first–and this man–possibly the last–were fully part of the kingdom of God.

We try our best, we find new ways to share what we have, to be vulnerable with each other, to love each other’s vulnerability, and to be a landing place when folks take the risk of running through the gateway, hoping they will find grace.