The Lighthouse Keeper

Greetings from Pastor Kerry, former pastor of Spring City UMC. This blog contains my sermon outlines and/or manuscripts from my pastorate among the people of Spring City PA, from 2006 to 2011. Pastor Dennis is now the lighthouse keeper. Come and worship on Sundays at 10:00 a.m.!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

"Our Daily Bread": Gluttony and Faith (7DS 1/7)

The first in a series on the Seven Deadly Sins

February 18, 2007
Transfiguration Sunday

from Luke 9:28-36 and Exodus 16

"He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." – Deuteronomy 8:3

My sermon outline:

• Met with other pastors to plan Lenten series. UCC and UMC of SpringFord, plus Episc. doing Lent together, 730 Wed eve services, childcare and refreshments, oppty for combined choirs. Theme is “the Joys and Sorrows of Temptation”... Another idea we tossed around was the Seven Deadly Sins (7DS), so I decided to run with that here. Naturally each week we’ll talk about a different DS, see what the Bible has to say about it, and see how we can hopefully avoid it.

• concept of 7DS, oddly enough, does not go back to the Bible. No 7DS list there. They do however date to the 400s or so when the early church fathers (ECF) both reflected on mankind’s bent to sin, and to their instruction to new followers (so if you find yourself not particularly tempted by one of these you can instruct your friends and family. If you do struggle with some of these temptations, it means you’re human and you’re in the right place to get help).

• Anyway, 7DS. There’s seven, they’re sins, but where’s the “Deadly” come from? ECF divided sin into two categories: minor sins (called venial) which were less serious and which could be more easily dealt with and forgiven through the sacraments and acts of penance, and the major sins (called capital or mortal, deadly). These deadly sins were ways of life that could easily lead one to sin habitually. They could easily lead one to commit other sins. The 7DS formed life habits that required more perfect and constant action of heart to counteract. Whereas the journey from venial sin to grace wasn’t very difficult, the mortal sin was a formidable obstruction or detour from the road to grace. And the ECF in their obsession with perfect numbers concluded that there were seven categories or flavors of sin that were deemed life-threatening. Ergo 7DS.

• Although he didn’t come up with the idea of the 7DS, the 14th century Italian poet Dante cemented them in literature and art in his Divine Comedy (Dante’s Inferno, Pergatorio, and Paradiso) (comedy, btw, in the classical sense doesn’t mean “funny” but has more to do with the characters involved and whether the plot goes from bad to worse or bad to good). In any case, since Dante’s Pergatorio, there have been many artistic renderings of the 7DS, and books and movies as well. A movie came out in 1995 called “Seven”, about a serial killer and the 7DS, and it’s from that movie that I stole the cover of the bulletin and what you see behind you now.

• So there are these seven types of sin called DS, and we’re going to go through Lent talking about the different ones and our responses to them. Though we can talk about sin any day of the year it seems particularly appropriate to talk about it during Lent, the 40-day period before Easter, in which people mourn their own sinfulness and seek to be more like Christ. So my prayer for us all is that we would allow ourselves to be led by God to examine our lives, our habits and our priorities, and that we would allow God’s spirit to work within us, purifying us of those things in our lives that do not lead to Life, but instead lead to destruction. The first such sin we’ll look at is Gluttony.

• Gluttony is a sin of excess, typically associated with overindulgence of food and drink, although it can be applied to wasteful lavish lifestyle as well. It’s a deadly sin because it essentially makes food an idol. Food is a means to an end (we must eat to survive) and praise God that God made food good, but gluttony raises food and eating to a sinful, idolatrous level. It is habitual eating for the sake of eating. It is not dining in a fine restaurant or having an expensive bottle of wine or getting three donuts at Dunkin Donuts (although if taken to the extreme, each of these could fall under gluttony), it is a pattern of excessive consumption. Gluttony is a sin that leads one to being wasteful, perhaps even in the face of poverty – think of the rich man and Lazarus: the rich man’s love of the “finer things in life” led him to neglect charity and hospitality to a man dying at his feet. Gluttony can also include things like drug abuse and binge drinking, wasteful, harmful acts of seeking fleeting pleasure that have led to countless deaths and wrecked lives. Gluttony is a sin of excess that distorts reality and leads away from God. Hear me again, it is not enjoying eating or having a good time, it is over-indulgence and over-consumption of food or drink to the point of waste or destruction.

• (In the movie Seven, which I stole the graphics from, the serial killer exemplifies gluttony by force-feeding an obese man until the man’s stomach essentially ruptures.)

• Now I can imagine people saying, C’mon Pastor, that’s pretty extreme... nobody here is really gluttonous... I mean sure, maybe I could stand to lose a few pounds but that doesn’t make me a glutton. And like I said last week about BMI, 30% of Americans are considered obese. Now there’s a difference between morbid obesity and most of us here who could stand to lose a few, but I ask you, does the defense of unnecessary overweightness stand? Whatever reason you give, is it overcomeable? Does it make you proud? Would you accept that reason from your child? I will not accuse you, but I will ask you, if you are obese, even if you are “just” overweight, why? Do you know that if you are at your optimal weight your joints themselves will last longer, that it shouldn’t hurt to use them? Your heart and other organs will function at their optimal levels and you’ll be at lower risk for disease.

• If you had a million dollar car, would you be likely to take special care of it, or would you neglect to keep its oil changed and its tires properly inflated? Would you put good gasoline into it, or the fuel/oil mix that you put into your snowblower? Your body is much more than a million dollar car, and it’s the only one you get. Maintaining it, taking care of it is your gift to yourself. Not only that, it’s your gift to God, who gave you your body. Is it hard to maintain your body? Well let me put it this way: it requires work. All good things do. But it is something that can bring you appropriate inner pride. It can enhance your life in the present and lengthen it in the future, it is a spiritual issue as much as it is a physical issue, and I can help point you in the right direction so that you may even hear it said of your body: Well done, good and faithful servant.

• The Bible contains several references to gluttony, and several remedies we would do well to live by: two of the biblical opposites (or counter virtues) to gluttony are self-control and faith. Self-control and faith are two of the fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 (and SC is one of the spiritual disciplines practiced during Lent). Self-control says “I will not allow food to be my God (and actually, self-control is a counter-virtue to many of the DS). Proverbs actually tells you to put a knife to your own throat if you are given to gluttony, indicating that it is a serious matter, one that requires self-control and discipline to avoid or overcome.

• Jesus addresses gluttony, I believe, when he teaches the disciples to pray: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Lord may you provide the food I need for today. I ask not for storehouses of grain that I may rely on them instead of thee... I ask not for a disproportionate share of resources, I ask not that I may have more than my neighbor... I do not ask for a handout that requires no effort on my part but for life-sustaining partnership with thee. I ask, Lord: may you provide the food I need for today. And tomorrow I ask the same thing, trusting in your providence.

• As the Lord did in the book of Exodus, which we read today. The Israelites were in the desert, where God provided them with the food they needed for the day. Every day. Enough. While they had to work to gather the heavenly bread that God provided, they were able to satisfy their bellies, and while doing so, they learned to rely on God, who provided enough for the day and who did not allow them to horde food. God didn’t drop it into their hands or their mouths – they had to work to gather it – but God provided for their needs. Each day. He knows our needs, and even helps us to have faith in him.

• The remedy for gluttony is an attitude of trust in God plus work with His providence, an attitude of self-control plus prayer and action, and of course, the grace of our Lord Jesus. These are gifts of God, for as it is written:

Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is he who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

• Jesus sets us free. Let God bless you and keep you and guide you. (--> Hymn 142)

- Pastor Kerry
This Sunday: 66 in worship. Cold.


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