Advice from the Wicked.
Psalm 1: 1Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers;
2but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.
3They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.
This week, in a moment of boredom, I found myself online looking at new lawn furniture. Its not like we need new lawn furniture. We have plenty. There are only three of us at home in this lockdown and we could use three chairs apiece and still have space for someone else. The chairs all just look worn-out and a little beat up. Most of what we have are ‘hand-me-downs’ from other people. For a while there, our house seemed to be the garbage dump for furniture that no one else wanted. (Which is a whole other blog, but be forewarned: I will not take kindly to you leaving your furniture at my house; assuming that I would want it because you think its better than the last pile of furniture you left at my house!) So, I was dreaming of new lawn furniture that was of my choosing and fit with the colours I see my “back yard oasis” turning into. Now, to be honest, there really are no plans for a “back yard oasis” in my future. We still are at the “lets just keep the house standing” stage of our home renovations planning. But looking and dreaming? No biggies, right!
Then I noticed a really interesting thing. Right after my shopping search for lawn furniture, I logged into my Social Media. Annnnddddd – all of my ‘targeted ads’ on Facebook were for lawn furniture. I was slightly creeped out by this but then was struck at the sheer genius of our social media algorithms. They take the threads of our online selves and draw them all into a specific campaign to get us to pay attention to advertising and consumerism. You know what? Even in my awareness that this was happening, I found myself drawn in and once again looking at lawn furniture. Then thinking I wanted new lawn furniture. Then thinking I needed new lawn furniture.
So, a moment of boredom led to some, well, rampant consumerism?
Just in case you were wondering; yes, I did give myself a shake and remind myself that this was not a need and not something that we would spend our money on at this time.
But all of this has gotten me thinking. What would it mean for us to stop going down these rabbit holes of consumerism and dissatisfaction with the abundance that we have? What would it mean for us to look at our metaphorical lawn furniture and think “wow” and “this is way more than we need”?
One of my friends last week commented to me that the United Church is the “Richest ‘Poor’ Church that I’ve ever seen”. What she meant was that it was clear to her that the United Church has incredible resources. We have way more property than we ever could use. We have money in the bank and assets that we still hold on to. We have human resources that could solve all of the world’s problems. But the United Church functions like we don’t have any of those, or that what we have just isn’t ‘enough’.
This thinking has been known as ‘deficit’ rather than ‘abundance’ thinking. We’ve lost that “Wow – look at what we have” lens at looking at life and have listened to the ‘advice of the wicked’ as it draws up the threads of ourselves and focuses our attention on materialism and consumerism.
We follow this path willingly and then are surprised that it doesn’t bring us the joy that we expected.
You see, in my life the joy doesn’t come from following this path; this wicked advice. No, it comes from choosing to follow Jesus instead of the targeted ads of our life. Choosing to look for ways of justice, mercy and humility instead of power, consumerism and prestige. Choosing to look at life from the abundance that we have been given rather than what we don’t have when others do.
And the consequences? Well – our scriptures tell us that the consequence of God’s law instead of the targeted ads of the wicked is Joy, is Rootedness, is Health and in the end is real Prosperity.
Abundance thinking brings us not only joy, but brings us Life.
So, today you get to see my lawn furniture. Or else, just part of what we have. You’ll see that it really is just lovely. Thank you to Em who sent me these pictures so I could post my blog!
Blessings Today my Dear Bethel Friends, and Remember you are Loved.
~ Rev. Lynne