Proper 26

November 5, 2000
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Ruth 1:1-18
Reading 2: 
Psalm 146
Reading 3: 
Hebrews 9:11-14
Reading 4: 
Mark 12:28-34
By Patricia Farmer

Mark 12:28-34

So what's most important? This might be the theme for a two-week sermon focus. Nothing could be more relational and process in character than the passages from Mark, first the greatest commandment (s) (Mark 12:28-34), and then the widow who lived out the greatest commandment (Mark 12:38-44). Are you afflicted with Affluenza? I would suggest that the greatest commandments which loom as the pinnacle of our New Testament faith are the antidote for the most egregious disease we are facing as a nation: affluenza. What is Affluenza? Af-flu-en-za n. 1. The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses. 2. An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the American Dream. 3. An unsustainable addiction to economic growth. 4. A television program that could change your life.Affluenza is a one-hour television special that explores out the web site and order the video for your church. In this well made, highly entertaining PBS documentary, Scott Simon suggests that consumerism has become the new religion of our world. From day 1 of our lives, we are jaded by out of control, sophisticated, and overwhelming advertisement that money and things are the source of happiness. And in its wake there is inner emptiness, impoverished relationships, and eventually planetary destruction. While watching the video, I thought of the book, For the Common Good, by John B. Cobb, Jr. and Herman E. Daly which confirms the same theory in more detail. I also thought of Brian Swimme's cosmology, The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos, in which he states, "Before a child enters first grade science class, and before entering in any real way into our religious ceremonies, a child will have soaked in thirty thousand advertisements. The time our teenagers spend absorbing ads is more than their total stay in high school." The cure for this disease which inflicts our children and society is Jesus' commandment in today's lection text. Love is the source of our meaning. Satisfying relationships, the kind Buber talks about in I-Thou, restore the loss of meaning. Choosing simplicity for the sake of relationships is the most important lesson we can teach our children and parishioners in these days of over consumption.Most of go around feeling like the hole in the center of a doughnut as a result of the overwhelming affluenza epidemic. Especially this time of year, when we focus on stewardship and face the consumer frenzy of the holidays, we need to lure people to ground themselves in what is most important.