Sunday, September 26, 2010

Loving Unchosen Neighbors

The Rev. Robert P. Travis
Eighteenth Sunday after the Pentecost – 8:00 & 10:30
RCL Proper 21 Year C 9/26/2010

1.Text: Jeremiah 32:1-3a,6-15, Psalm 91:1-6,14-16, 1 Timothy 6:6-19, Luke 16:19-31

I was going through my old sermons
and I discovered that the very first
sermon I wrote in Seminary,
was on this same Gospel pericope
we heard today.
I read through that sermon and found some good parts
for today.
But a great deal of the text was disappointing
to me, because it showed me
how immature I was then,
and especially that I had a sort of chip
on my shoulder about wealthy people.
I was fresh out of my experience as a youth minister
at an Episcopal Church on the Northshore of Long Island,
commonly called the Gold Coast of Long Island.
Some of the wealthiest people in the world
live in that town.
You couldn't buy a house, not even a shack,
for less than $600,000.
Parents would commonly buy $80,000 Lexuses
for their children when they turned 16.
And yet, at the Episcopal Church where I worshipped
and served, my $3,500 pledge was one of the largest
pledges in the parish.
So I was angry at the injustice that wealth causes,
as I wrote that sermon with them in mind,
and concerned for their spiritual well being,
as well as for my own.

(selections from text of old Sermon in quotes)
“Actually there's a lot of hope
in this story.
There may not be hope for the rich man in the story,
but there's a lot of hope for the rest of us.
I believe that is why Jesus told it.
You see, this was a really familiar
story back then,
the kind of story where everyone
in the crowd would be mumbling to themselves,
“Oh I've heard this one before,
this is the one about
the rich man and Lazarus.”
But Jesus, as he often does,
puts an interesting twist in the story...

talk about the Name of Lazarus, meaning God has Blessed

“After the rich man begs him to send Lazarus
to his family to warn them,
Abraham says, “they have Moses and the Prophets;
let them listen to them.”
Now where have we heard this before?
Lots of times in the Bible we hear someone
say the phrase, “Moses and the Prophets.”
Or sometimes, “The Law and the Prophets,”
since the tradition held that the Torah,
the books of the Law were written by Moses.
As I see it, Abraham is saying to the rich man
and through Jesus, to us:
“they should look at the Law and the Prophets!
In there God tells you everything
you need to live a good life
and come to be with me after you die.”

Also those scriptures talk about blessing . . .
and tradition held that the wealthy were blessed
and the poor cursed.
Talk about the idea of blessings vs. abomination.

You see, the Rich man knew the Biblical story.
He knew that in the Torah, God commands us
“Love your neighbor as yourself!”
From just what we know about this man in the story
we can see that he wasn't doing this.
Who was his neighbor in the story?

The story said Lazarus “was laid” at the rich man's gate.
Now I don't know about you,
but if someone makes their home right next to mine,
no matter how they do it,
I would say that is about as literal a definition of neighbor
as you can get.
What did the rich man do for Lazarus, who was his neighbor?
Lazarus, longed to eat what fell from the rich man's table.
The rich man wasn't even giving him the scraps!
Maybe he didn't feel like Lazarus was his neighbor
because he just showed up uninvited
and the rich man had no choice in the matter.
Maybe he didn't have his own house
in the nice section of town.
Maybe he thought Lazarus was an “illegal”
if he did not enjoy the citizenship that the rich man did.

But the fact of the matter is,
Lazarus became the rich man's neighbor.
Sound familiar?
Do you have any neighbors right here in town like Lazarus?

In Europe this week the news was about the Roma -
unwanted neighbors for many countries in Europe. . .

The other verse I want to talk about is the phrase
“they will not listen even if someone is raised from the dead.”
In someways this can sound quite cynical,
because Abraham, and through the story, Jesus,
is clearly saying that those who aren't following
the great gifts of Torah and Prophecy
that God gave his people will not be convinced
even if someone rises from the dead.
But let's look behind the cynicism at the interesting twist
that I mentioned earlier.
Jesus was referring to his own eventual resurrection!
Jesus did rise from the dead!
That's what our whole faith is based upon,
and it is a message of great hope.
While the story says, they won't even listen IF
someone comes back from the dead to warn them,
Jesus is saying He IS going to come back from the dead!
And you and I know it happened...

God is not saying that wealth is a terrible thing,
or evil in and of itself.
Every gift comes from God, and is intended for good.
Maybe it's prophetic that people who didn't listen before
won't listen now,
but WE WILL!
God has given us great wealth,
but he gave it to us so that we would use it
for the building up of the Kingdom!
His Kingdom...not ours.

Every time we use our wealth to act with love
towards our neighbors,
to nourish the Body of Christ,
even those who just showed up,
whom we did not choose,
we acknowledge that we have listened,
and we still are listening to Jesus.
Jesus gives us everything we need to know
in his life and teachings,
and not because we deserve it.
NO, and we don't deserve these riches either,
but God loves us so much that he let his only son die,
in part so that we could have someone
who had been to the dead and back
tell us from experience what waits for us after death,
and how to join Him in heaven. . .

What an amazing gift that he tells us what we need to know!
That's what the rich man hoped for.

There are unwanted neighbors in Knoxville,
I have read recently that people,
some of whom claim to be Christian,
are fighting against having housing for the poor
built or allocated in their neighborhoods,
saying it will affect their property values.

The people we choose in our lives are one thing,
but Jesus is asking us to love the neighbors
whom we did not choose.

So what do we have to do?
For those of us who are wealthy,
Jesus tells us it's going to be hard, really hard,
for us to keep from being weighed down by our wealth.

It's hard because you can't love someone you don't pay
attention to, and so to love God and love our neighbor
we have to pay attention to them.
We can't try to keep them out of our neighborhoods
so we can pretend they aren't there.
But with our wealth we have so many things
to distract us from God and our neighbors.
Because money is so distracting.
I don't need to tell you how much more complicated
life gets when you have money.
Frankly we become so distracted with our wealth
that we miss the opportunities which abound
for us to use it for God!

So take a look at the great chance you've been given!
There are neighbors who get dropped at the very gate
of our precious community. . .
Think about the homeless on our doorstep,
and the formerly homeless
in Knoxville's permanent supportive housing.
Do you know them?
We have opportunities to get to know them here.
Family Promise, Circles of Support...

You know that Jesus Christ came back from the dead
to show you the way to God.
You know that God gave you wealth in this world.
What are you going to do with that knowledge?
If we love Jesus we will keep his commandments,
we will love these neighbors,
regardless of how they got there.
Don't let your money distract you from your neighbor!”
And seek contentment rather than wealth
as we heard in Timothy
and use your wealth to nourish the Body of Christ,
in this community of faith.
That is one way to grasp eternal live now,
you don't have to wait to get to heaven.

Giving Ourselves to God

Proper 20 Year C Luke 16:1-13
Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 19th, 2010
Written by Fr. Brett Backus
Delivered at 8am by Fr. Brett, at 10:30am by Fr. Rob

Giving Ourselves to God

“For the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation
than are the children of light.”

Today's message is about Christian living.
It is about our very real need as Christians
to struggle constantly
with the giving over of ourselves to Christ
in order to make room for God in our hearts.

You know, one of my favorite things
about taking people on mission trips
is being provided with the opportunity
to witness the people we have taken
grow before our very eyes.
Being able to provide people with life altering experiences and having the chance to see
how each individual responds to challenges and changes
as a result of the various challenges that come along
with mission work is both a blessing and a privilege.
One of my favorite challenges,
which presented itself on both the trips to Bolivia Ascension has supported and taken in the past two years,
is the challenge that comes from the realization
that there is a lack of resources.
So, there you are,
working on some type of construction project,
trying to hammer two pieces of wood together
or saw something in half,
or maybe you are just trying to paint a wall.
Regardless, the inevitable reality is,
you do not have the proper tools to accomplish this task.
Not only do you not have what you need,
but you also do not have the foggiest idea
as to where to begin looking for what you need.
What you do have though,
what you do know without a doubt,
is that you have an important task in front of you.
Something that is important to someone else.
Something that means quite a bit to the people
you are trying to serve,
and something that you must accomplish.
So, what happens? Action.
You deal with it.
See, the thing that I love to witness
in this type of situation while doing mission work,
the amazing thing that happens every time
as a result of this type of challenge
is that people make it happen.
They just do it.
Despite the challenge,
and regardless of whether a somewhat better tool
can be searched out and purchased or not,
the people somehow recognize the seriousness
and importance of their current situation
and the meaning of their service to others,
and they do what they must
and in the best way they can
in order to accomplish their task.
They act, and to witness this is amazing.
To watch a group of normal everyday people
band together and care so much about something
that they take such an energetic initiative
and act with such persistence in order to succeed
is astonishing.
It truly is a sight to behold,
and it is a perfect example
of a kind of authentic Christian living,
where individuals successfully give themselves
over to God in order to serve others in His name,
and it is a shame that it is not something
we have the chance to see, experience,
or participate in everyday.
That is what I believe Jesus is talking to us about
in this morning's Gospel;
the way we choose to act as Christians.
Now, if you were paying attention
while Deacon Amy was reading this morning's Gospel lesson to us, then the appropriate response
that you should be having right about now is,
this is absolutely insane!
This is crazy, it does not make sense,
I do not get it, what in the world is Jesus talking about?
Boy, I sure feel sorry for the person who
has to write a sermon on this one!
You are right.
Actually, even to this day, scholars debate
about what in the world the actual point is
that Jesus is trying to get across in this Gospel lesson.
Of course, I cannot pretend to have the answer
to that question or the solution to this age old debate today. However, what I can do,
is speak to you all about what I heard this Gospel saying to me as I prepared to preach to you this morning.
I hear Jesus calling us to Christian action,
to Christian living.
See, the dishonest manager in today's Gospel
is commended for acting shrewdly,
and while I somewhat agree with the many
who believe that this passage is intended to teach us
about how to deal with or use our money and possessions,
I also think that Jesus is pointing us to a lesson
that lies just a little deeper than that.
As I see it, the dishonest manager
is not being praised for the way he handled money,
or for how he treated his boss's debtors.
He is being praised because he acted.
He took care of it.
The reason that the dishonest manager in this morning's Gospel is lifted up is because he fully appreciates
the importance and urgency of his situation
and he takes an energetic initiative and acts prudently.
This is what I believe Jesus wants us to see
in today's Gospel.
“For the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”
You see, Christian living, a commitment to living
for Christ as His disciples,
seems to have lost its prominence or importance
in the lives of present day Christians.
Granted, we find ourselves in a very different situation
than the disciples of Christ's day.
We do not fear persecution
and we do not typically hold the belief
that Jesus is going to come back any minute now.
But we do struggle
with giving Christ the prominence in our lives
that He should have.
In other words, we place many things of this world
and in our lives before God.
This, I believe, is why we,
the children of light,
are being compared with the shrewdness
of the children of this generation. In a way,
we are being told to take notes
and apply what we learn to our Christian living.
To begin to give more importance to Christ in our lives
than other things,
and to be as resourceful and prudent
in our Christian dealings or actions
as the dishonest manager was in his dealings with money. Today, Jesus calls us each back
to being Christ-centered people.
People who place the utmost importance
on obeying the teachings
and spreading the message of Christ.
People who commit to living in a way
that becomes an example for others.
People who actually care about ushering in
the reality of Christ,
even enough to put Him before all other things in their lives.
But how is it possible to actually do this?
Oh yes, that dirty little word
that makes us all cringe to hear.
Now, I promise that I did not originally intend
on this being a stewardship sermon,
and it really is not at it's heart,
but it is almost impossible not to see how closely
the two subjects are related in today's Gospel.
Plus, I didn't think that our Stewardship committee
would really mind my mentioning the subject!
The reality is, and just as our Gospel today points out,
all of us try to serve two masters
(and that might be putting it mildly),
and this is precisely what creates one of the main problems for us as disciples of Christ
trying to live Christ centered lives.
Our love of material and worldly things
divides our hearts between Christ and our possessions.
The truth is, that this is why pledging and tithing
are so deeply important for all of us.
They help us avoid the pitfalls
which lead to serving two masters,
the main thing which prevents us from truly adopting Christian action, Christian living.
They are the blessings which, when used,
help us to lessen and even defeat the false masters
which we unfortunately have come to serve
at the very core of our hearts.
They help us to clear out the formerly crowded space
in our hearts and enable us to make room
to be filled with the presence of God.
Unfortunately, in our day,
stewardship has come to be viewed as a burden.
People think that they should give
of their time, talents, and money
because it is needed for the church to run,
because it is commanded,
because it is just the right thing to do,
or because they view it as a form of repayment
for the services that the church has provided them.
But this misses the entire point of such powerful
and necessary spiritual practices.
When we give, we give for none of these reasons.
When we give, we give of our time, talents, and money,
the things that are most precious to us,
in effect, we give of our very selves
in order to successfully reorient the core of our hearts
around Christ.
We give in order to put Christ before all things in our lives,
in order to be able to live Christ centered lives.
With truly sacrificial giving,
the kind that makes you wince
when you look at how much you give,
you experience the true connection to Christ,
that action for Christ I was talking about earlier.
You see, in the end, this is what today's Gospel
is really all about, at least for me it is.
It is about reaching true Christian living,
Christian action, through the sacrifice of ourselves.
Only by giving up those things
which we are most attached to,
the things that hurt to give away,
can we finally make the space necessary
for God to take first place in our hearts.
Only then can we really place the highest importance
on Christ and the real focus on Christian living
that Jesus as Lord deserves.
Only then can we truly adopt Christian action.
Only through such intentional sacrifice can we,
the children of light,
finally be as wise and prudent in our dealings with God
and God's creation as we currently are
with our material things.
We cannot step into the light
until we let go of all that is holding us back,
of all that is weighing us down,
of all that we are holding onto with all of our strength.
When we finally figure out how to do this,
then we will be able to begin
trying to reorder our lives around the only One
that deserves all our efforts,
all our focus, all that we are.
“For the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation
than are the children of light.” Amen.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Joy of Repentance

Given at 8am Service
Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 19C
September 12, 2010 (Rally Day)
Luke 15:1-10
Fr. Rob Travis

How many of you have ever lost a sheep?

I know I haven't, so it's kind of hard
for me to appreciate the joy
that a shepherd would have,
if he went in search of a lost sheep
and found it.

But the losing money thing,
and finding it,
that makes sense to me,
as long as I realize that a silver coin,
back then, was worth a lot more
than a simple quarter today.
The most common silver coin
was the denarius,
which was what was typically
paid for a day's wage.

So let's say you lost a $100 bill.
I would certainly spend a while
searching for that,
and be pretty thrilled if I found it.

Or let’s take a more recent example,
say you lost a whole lot of money
in the stock market
your retirement savings,

wouldn’t you go about
doing everything you could,
to try to get that money back?
You might even neglect some things
that need your attention
in order to get back what you lost.

That’s the way God sees us,
or at least the way God sees sinners.
I don’t know what your feelings are on this,
but if I’m honest with myself,
I often think I’m more like one of the Pharisees or scribes.
I tend to think I’m doing pretty good.
And it usually ticks me off when people
point out how I’m not as good as I think I am.

Take a trivial example;
yesterday I was making
a tuna salad sandwich,
and I offered to make
some tuna for Jackie too.
When I sliced the few tomatoes I had,
I figured I should leave some for her sandwich as well,
even though there was so little
I could easily have
eaten the whole thing.
So I left her some pieces,
and probably subconsciously
put the middle pieces
on my sandwich.
When she came to make hers,
she said why did you leave
just the end pieces for me?
That made me angry, because I figured I was doing a good thing by even sharing the tomato I could have eaten entirely myself.
But she was right, I wasn’t thinking of her,
or what she would prefer.
And for me, ends are just as good as middles.
So I got all upset, because
I thought I was righteous.
That’s sort of how I see the Pharisees
who are complaining
that Jesus is welcoming
tax collectors and sinners.

And I hear sarcasm in Jesus’ voice,
when he says,
“there is more joy in heaven
over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine who need no repentance.”

There really aren’t any
who need no repentance.
But we already knew that.
Because we have the benefit of hindsight,
but if we were there
when it was first said,
we might have felt complimented
by the thought
that maybe we are included
among the ninety-nine
who need no repentance,
because we’re doing
all the religious things right.

And we get hung up on the idea,
that repentance is only for “bad” people,
or for people who are notorious.
That leads to our tying repentance with feelings of guilt,
and shame,
so repentance doesn’t look like a good thing
and who would want to do that?
Certainly, in today’s world, it’s better to
just feel good about yourself,
and not be a downer or even
be near others we think of as downers.

But as usual,
if we look at what Jesus is saying,
we will see that he is turning the tables,
on that sort of thinking.
Repentance is not about guilt and shame,
It is about being found by God,
prized by him,
and it is characterized by joy, and rejoicing!

(talk about Bishop Stanton’s essay on the Cross
from "The Living Church" volume 241 number 11
September 12, 2010)
(Holy Cross Day is Tuesday.)

While repentance has come to have
a negative connotation in today’s world,
what Jesus is telling us today,
is that it’s really all about joy.
It’s joyful for God,
and all the angels,
whenever we repent,
and it’s joyful for us,
to be picked up in the arms of our savior,
and carried back into the fold,
to where we are supposed to be.
So look for opportunities to repent,
rather than running from them.
You’ll be glad you did.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Cost of Discipleship

Proper 18 Year C Luke 14:25-33
The Cost of Discipleship
The Rev. Brett P. Backus

“So therefore, none of you can become my disciple
if you do not give up all your possessions.”

Today's message is about the cost of discipleship. It is about learning to let go of all we love
in order to truly grasp Christ.

So, I had a very hard time preparing today's sermon, a harder time than normal actually. I spent the majority of this week racking my brains as to how to begin this sermon, torturing my poor pregnant wife by using her as a sounding board for my ideas, staring at my computer until my brain went numb, and roaming the halls of the church desperately trying to trick someone else into thinking it was their Sunday to preach (it almost worked on Deacon Amy, by the way). Then, in desperation, and because I could no longer stand the site of my office, I somehow found my way up to our labyrinth sometime late Thursday afternoon. It was there, walking the labyrinth, that I unexpectedly realized that I actually had the perfect anecdote with me for beginning this sermon all along. It is my own sermon process.
Now, I have never shared this with anybody, but you see, I go through virtually the very same learning process every time I begin trying to come up with a sermon for you all. I struggle to find a good idea, to figure out a good delivery, and then God teaches me the same lesson in humility that I must relearn almost every time I write a sermon. You think I would learn by now, but every time I am preparing to preach, God teaches me that I have to let go, and that none of this, no matter how much it feeds my ego to think so, is actually about me. Patiently, over and over, God shows me that it is about letting go and placing God's interests above my own.
Basically, the main issue is that I forget to pray and to ask for guidance. Whether I have already started my sermon preparation and have a very clear idea of what the Gospel is saying and what I think am going to speak about, or, like this week, I struggle until almost the very end with finding a direction, the sermon that I actually bring before you all on Sunday is really never given to me until I am finally somehow humbled and hit my knees in prayer. You see, God has to teach me, over and over again, to give up control and to get out of the way. Only after approaching God, thanking Him for calling me to His service and for the honor of delivering His word to His people, and after requesting to be given only the words which He wishes me to speak and for preparation of the hearts that will be receiving them, do I ever really begin to write a sermon. Only when I let go of everything, do I ever produce anything. God is constantly teaching me to give everything I am over to Him, and this, I believe, is what Jesus is teaching all of us this morning as well. To let go, detach ourselves from all that binds us in order to bind ourselves to Christ.
Now, I know that on the surface, today's Gospel lesson seems altogether harsh. Jesus is telling His audience to hate their loved ones, requiring them to sacrifice their lives, warning them of failed discipleship, and requiring the forking over of all one's possessions. However, I think the true danger for us today is the very real possibility of missing Christ's actual intended message for us all this morning as a result of getting too hung up on His seemingly extreme words. Certainly it is quite jarring to hear our compassionate, peaceful, and loving Christ, all of a sudden requiring us to hate our family and loved ones, and requesting of us both our possessions and our lives. But what I would like us all to see today, is that Jesus' words in this Gospel lesson actually point us to a greater and more important learning than what we might originally perceive.
You see, in this morning's Gospel, Jesus is speaking to those who wish to follow Him, those who wish to be His disciples. Through two parables and some pretty intense illustrations, Jesus is telling his audience that they must seriously consider the cost of discipleship before committing. In fewer words, Jesus is telling them that in order to follow Him, they must be prepared and willing to put Christ before all else, if necessary. He is telling them that they must be prepared and willing to let go, and today, He is reminding us, His present day disciples, of the same.
Now, perhaps this will seem like some sort of a cop out to some of you, but I do not believe that Jesus is saying that those who wish to follow Him must actually and literally by all means turn away from their loved ones, or that they must in fact lose their lives and give up all possessions. What I hear Jesus saying through these expressions, the point that is underlying all of this, is that in order to be disciples of Christ we must give Him ourselves. All that we are, and all that we have. To place Christ before and above all things, including ourselves, and to recognize that all that we have and all whom we love in reality belong to Him, not us. This, brothers and sisters in Christ, is the cost and requirement of true Christian discipleship and this is what Jesus is speaking to us all about today. Jesus' requirements for discipleship are not harsh. On the contrary, they are what make us complete.
However, even with this new understanding of Christ's words we still encounter a fairly large difficulty in this morning's Gospel when we realize that Jesus' message goes even deeper for us than his original audience. Unlike the people who Jesus is talking to in today's Gospel, those considering discipleship, you and I have already accepted. We have already supposedly weighed these great costs and committed, through baptism, confirmation, affirmation, membership. Therefore, we are disciples of Christ, and Jesus' message for each of us today serves more as a calling to return to our true roles as disciples, rather than an introduction to the costs of Christian discipleship. Jesus' very personal message for us today is to call us back into what we probably whole heartedly intend to become, but have more often than not, failed to be. Disciples; a body of people whose lives are fully and whole heartedly given to God, bowed and humbled before Him in all that we do and with all that we are.
I would say that this message is quite timely for us in today's world, this beckoning back to a selfless living for God. I mean, it is not very hard to see that we currently find ourselves in a world and in a particular society that more than anything encourages individualism and egocentrism. With all the constant noise which bombards us and indoctrinates us into a seemingly permanent mentality of “I,” or “me,” and with our religion, regardless of denomination, seeming to be shaped more often than not by the world around it instead of the other way around, it is frankly a surprise to me that we can ever hear Jesus' calls to us at all. No wonder I forget to pray before a sermon! And no wonder the Church and discipleship have become the second class citizens that they currently are, always trumped by the interests and desires of our selves.
If we are honest, then I think we have to admit the reality that, for the majority of us, myself included, our commitment to Christian discipleship is usually not really much more than an afterthought. It is something that seems, well, nice. Our responsibilities to God are what we think about only when we have either hit a crisis point in our lives and therefore need God, or when things are just going so swell for once that we actually find that we have some time to sit down and acknowledge God. This is why Jesus' message for us today is so important for us to hear. This is why it is necessary for us to be reminded of the promises we have taken and what they mean.
As always though, there is also good news and a healthy measure of hope in Jesus' message for us today. Though Jesus' words at first seem so harsh and seem to be cautioning us about our questionable decisions, the heart of His message for each of us today is actually much more like a gift. It is a gift which, if used correctly, will lead us to real happiness and peace in this life. You see, part of the problem that the Church overall is facing today is that somehow its teachings have become burdensome to our world. Whereas church worship was intended to be a celebration and a joy, for many it is now a burden and obligation. Whereas spreading Christ's message was intended to be excitingly Good News, it is now an embarrassment. Now, whereas Discipleship was intended to show us all how to finally encounter true life, it is now seen only as a harsh regiment of highly set standards.
But this is not how Jesus intended His words to be heard. Jesus' call to a return to our lives as Christian disciples today is not a call to some boring, restricted, and regulated life. He is not calling us to suffering. Rather, Jesus' call to us today, as Christian disciples, is a call to freedom, to true life. Yes, it is ironic, and yes it does defy our logic, but this is what Jesus is truly calling us all to when he beckons us to lose our lives, to lose our possessions, to lose our attachments. Jesus is calling us to life. You see, the truth which Jesus knows and is trying to share with us is, that only through loosening up the tight grip we have on our things and our loved ones, only through consciously giving up our possessions, only by giving over our lives and our selves to Christ, recognizing that nothing is truly ours but in fact all is of Him, will we ever experience true Life. This Brothers and Sisters in Christ is what Jesus is saying to us in today's Gospel. This is what we as Christians are actually called to. This, my friends, is Discipleship. To give up all that we have and all that we are to Christ, to let go, and in doing so gain Him, the Christ, God, Everything.

“So therefore, none of you can become my disciple
if you do not give up all your possessions.”